Game Six: Cubs (3-2) vs. Reds (4-2)
- Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: WBBM 780, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 185, 844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jon Lester (0-1, 6.23/2.31/1.62) vs. Mike Leake (0-0, 4.76/1.94/4.06)
The 3-2 Chicago Cubs open a six-game homestand with the first of three against the revitalized Cincinnati Reds. The Padres come in for three over the weekend before the Cubs hit the road next Monday in Pittsburgh.
Joey Votto and company showed the flair for the dramatic over the first week of the season. The Reds enter play tonight a half game up on the Cubs and Cardinals in the Central Division.
The Cubs will shoot for three in a row tonight behind Jon Lester. The Cubs took two of three over the weekend from the Rockies and will have their hands full with the Reds for the next three days. To put it simply, the Reds have owned the Cubs over the last five years, especially at Wrigley Field. Joey Votto is healthy while players such as Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart seemingly have their best games when hitting off Cubs pitching.
In order for the Cubs to reach its goal for the season, Joe Maddon will have to make significant improvements against the teams in the NL Central. The Cubs were 8-11 versus the Reds a year ago and 33-43 in games within its division. It will be interesting to see if there is any carry-over during this series from Anthony Rizzo taking on the Reds’ bench last year.
Jon Lester faces Mike Leake tonight in the opener. Jake Arrieta is scheduled for Tuesday against Anthony DeSclafani and Wednesday’s finale features a matchup of pitchers taking on his old team. Travis Wood is scheduled to square off against Jason Marquis.
All eyes will be on Jon Lester tonight in his second start with the Cubs. The Reds, especially Billy Hamilton, will try to exploit his weakness. The Reds will run, just ask Jake Arrieta and John Baker, Lester and David Ross will face a huge challenge with no only keeping the Reds off the bases but limiting the track meet that could take place once the Reds reach first base.
Tonight all starts with Jon Lester …
Jon Lester is coming off a not-so-good outing against the Cardinals on Opening Night eight days ago. Lester struggled with his command and was lifted after only 4 1/3 innings. Lester gave up three runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
Lester faced the Reds in Spring Training, but that was just practice and tonight counts. Jon Lester makes his first career start against the Redlegs under the lights at the old ballyard.
Only Brayan Pena (7-for-18 with a double), Marlon Byrd (2-for-14 with a double) and Brennan Boesch (3-for-13) have had at bats against Jon Lester in a regular season game.
Mike Leake put together a serviceable start against the Pirates in his first outing of the season. Leake lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on five hits with six walks and six strikeouts. The Reds won the game and that’s all that counts, but Leake did not pitch as a No. 2 starter should for a contending team.
The Cubs must be patient against Leake tonight and not expand the zone. If the Cubs make Leake work the offense will have plenty of opportunities to put runs on the board.
Mike Leake has dominated the Cubs since he made his big league debut against the franchise at Great American Ball Park on April 11, 2010. Leake is 8-2 in 15 starts versus the Cubs with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. At Wrigley Field, Leake is 3-2 in eight starts with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Last year, Leake beat the Cubs the only time he faced them. Leake allowed three runs, two earned, on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Cubs Career Numbers against Mike Leake
- Starlin Castro: 13-for-43 with three doubles, one triple and three walks
- Anthony Rizzo: 7-for-20 with two doubles, one home run and two walks
- Welington Castillo: 3-for-15 with one double and one walk
- Chris Coghlan: 5-for-5 with two doubles
- Travis Wood: 0-for-2 with two walks
- Dexter Fowler: 2-for-4
- Tommy La Stella: 0-for-2
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …