Game Twenty-Four: Cubs (13-10) vs. Cardinals (18-6)
- Game Time – 7:10pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, ESPN – Radio: WBBM 780, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 186, 844
- Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Travis Wood (2-1, 3.04/1.06/3.35) vs. Carlos Martinez (3-0, 1.73/1.04/4.45)
Weather permitting … The Cubs begin a seven-game, two city road trip tonight with the first of four in St. Louis against the best team in the National League that ends Sunday at Miller Park. The Cubs have a big test in front of them and if there is such a thing as an important series in the first week of May this is it.
The Cubs enter play tonight struggling offensively and 4 ½ games back of the Cardinals, who simply cannot lose a game. Everything, as always, is going the Cardinals way. The Redbirds are flying high after sweeping the Pirates over the weekend with all three wins coming in extra innings. In order for the Cubs to stay within reach of their goal, anything less than a split in St. Louis, even just a month in the season, is going to make it hard on a young team looking to stake its claim on the division.
Due to the freeze-out of the second game of the season, the Cubs split the two-game series with the Cardinals at the beginning of the year. And the young hitters have a tough task over the next four days facing the Cardinals’ staff that hasn’t skipped a beat without Adam Wainwright.
Travis Wood and Carlos Martinez match up in tonight’s opener. The Cubs starting lineup has very limited experience against Martinez and only two hits by the players that should be in Joe Maddon’s starting lineup. Maddon should load his lineup with as many lefties as possible, and that includes sitting Welington Castillo in favor of Miguel Montero. Lefties are hitting .220/.304/.375 with a .649 OPS against Martinez while right handers have managed a miserable .143/.217/.217 slash line.
Kyle Hendricks and lefty Tyler Lyons are scheduled for game two on Tuesday night. Jon Lester and Lance Lynn are set for Wednesday and the finale on Thursday afternoon is expected to be Jake Arrieta against John Lackey.
The Cardinals are the King of the Central Division and the model franchise in the National League, if not all of baseball, and they make sure that everyone knows it. Winning the series, especially in the Cardinals’ home park, will give the young Cubs even more confidence than Joe Maddon already has them playing with this season.
Follow Sunday’s game, Jason Hammel summed up the series with the Cardinals. “This is a good test. We’ve got to win these games. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”
Tonight all starts with Travis Wood …
Travis Wood makes his fifth start of the year tonight. Wood put together a good outing against the Pirates his last time out. Wood limited the Bucs to two runs on five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in seven innings. Wood will face a team not from Pittsburgh for the first time since April 15. And Maddon needs Wood to perform tonight like the pitcher he’s been at home this year and not on the road.
Wood has made four starts, two at Wrigley and two outside of the Friendly Confines. And it has been night and day to this point. In two home starts, Wood is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. He has allowed two runs on eight hits in 14 innings with two walks and 16 strikeouts. Outside of Wrigley is not good at all. Wood is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. In 9 2/3 innings, Wood has allowed six runs on 11 hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts … and teams are hitting 129 points higher against him in their parks.
Travis Wood has struggled throughout his career against the Cardinals. Wood is 5-6 in 16 starts with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP, and Jon Jay has his number. Wood is 2-3 in seven starts at Busch Stadium with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Last season, Wood posted a 2-1 record in five starts versus the Redbirds with a 5.20 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
To say Travis Wood faces a huge challenge tonight would be an understatement.
Cardinals Career Numbers against Travis Wood
- Matt Holliday: 15-for-40 with four doubles, four home runs and two walks
- Yadier Molina: 15-for-38 with four doubles and three home runs
- Jon Jay: 13-for-32 with three doubles and three walks
- Matt Carpenter: 8-for-30 with one double, two home runs and four walks
- Jhonny Peralta: 4-for-13 with two doubles and three walks
- Pete Kozma: 4-for-1 with two doubles and four walks
- Mark Reynolds: 4-for-12 with one home run and two walks
- Matt Adams: 3-for-13
- Tony Cruz: 2-for-5 with one double
- Jason Heyward: 1-for-3
- Kolten Wong: 1-for-2 with one home run
Carlos Martinez has been lights out for the Cardinals this season and he faces the Cubs for the second time this year tonight. Martinez kept the Cubs off the board for an inning on Opening Night.
Because of pitchers like Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals will not miss a beat with Adam Wainwright out for the season. Martinez has won his last three starts. While pitchers wins aren’t viewed the same as they once were, the Cardinals are a perfect 5-0 in the five games he’s pitched in this season.
Martinez is coming off another very good outing. He held the Phillies to two runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings. Martinez has allowed a grand total of three earned runs on 13 hits with seven walks and 15 strikeouts in his last three starts.
The Cubs have their work cut out for them tonight.
Carlos Martinez makes the first start of his career against the Cubs tonight. Martinez has faced the Cubs 10 times, but all as a reliever. In those 10 games, Martinez has pitched 10 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Last year, Martinez gave up three runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings over six appearances (5.06 ERA, 1.50 WHIP).
Cubs Career Numbers against Carlos Martinez
- Starlin Castro: 0-for-6
- Welington Castillo: 0-for-3
- Anthony Rizzo: 0-for-2 with one walk
- Chris Coghlan: 0-for-2
- Junior Lake: 0-for-2
- David Ross: 0-for-2
- Chris Denorfia: 1-for-1
- Dexter Fowler: 1-for-1
- Jonathan Herrera: 1-for-1
- Jorge Soler: 1-for-1 with one double
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …