The Cubs make their 2015 WGN debut today as they battle Johnny Cueto and the Reds at 3:05 PM CST from Sloan Park. Travis Wood gets the ball for the Cubs as he looks to continue a strong-ish spring with eyes on the 5th spot in the rotation. Command has been much better for Wood as he has yet to walk a batter this spring, he has given up seven hits in five innings, but no free passes helps. The Cubs lineup is missing Bryant so that will make everyone sad, but there are some exciting players to watch today, like Addison Russell who is having the best spring of anyone not named Kris Bryant.
1. Fowler – CF
2. Denorfia – LF
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Montero – DH
5. Baez – 2B
6. Baxter – RF
7. Ross – C
8. La Stella – 3B
9. Russell – SS
SP – Travis Wood
Solid pitching? Check. Just enough hitting? Check.
It seems simple, but the Cubs have played some solid baseball over the past 90 games (45-45 before tonight), and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down with their latest win in Cincinnati tonight, their fourth straight. Travis Wood found his 2013 magic against his former employer, he worked six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, while walking one, and striking out five. The Cubs pen shut, no, slammed the door once again, as Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon were lights out. Wood picked up his eighth win of the season, and Rondon registered his 22nd save of the year.
Offensively the Cubs got started in the first, and that was all they needed. Anthony Rizzo hit an absolute bomb off of Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto in the first, it was his 30th home run of the season, that’s impressive. Starlin Castro returned from the bereavement list tonight, and picked up right where he left off, he went 2-for-4 in the win. Arismendy Alcantara joined the fun late, as he blasted a two-run shot to give the Cubs some insurance in the seventh.
Get ready for Jorge Soler, he debuts tomorrow!
Note: Anthony Rizzo left the game late with some back tightness, he should be fine.
No fake rally today boys and girls as the Cubs finally showed some life and came through with a successful rally, no, really! The Cubs were being owned by Johnny Cueto all day and thanks to some questionable behavior from Cueto, the Cubs woke up. Now, I’m not going to get into the problem with waiting to be woke up by the opponent versus being ready at first pitch right now, the point is Cueto woke the Cubs up, and paid for it. Trailing 4-0, the Cubs got one run back in the seventh, and scored three times in the eighth inning, the big blow was an Alfonso Soriano two-run homer to tie the game at four, all the damage was done with two outs. The Cubs went on top for good in then tenth inning as Welington Castillo‘s two out double scored Scott Hairston, and Kevin Gregg shut the door in the bottom half. The bullpen was outstanding in this one, as they worked a combined 5.2 scoreless innings giving up only one hit after Matt Garza left after four.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
I think I mentioned that it was imperative for the Cubs to get off to a good start on this road trip to avoid a disaster, well that didn’t happen. The Cubs limp into this weekend series against the Reds after getting swept by the Pirates and losing five out of their last six. That’s why I said that the Mets series would have either been a step forward or a big step back, they lost that series and spiraled since, that would be a step back as they sit ten games under .500 now which is a low water mark. Things aren’t going to get any easier as the Cubs start a three game series in Cincinnati tonight, a place where the Reds are 16-6 on the season, and have won eight of their last ten overall. If there is any good news heading into this series it’s that the Cubs have played the Reds tough all year-long, that doesn’t necessarily mean wins, guess we’ll have to rely on moral victories at this point. The Reds are back to scoring runs in bunches again and have scored 225 on the season, that’s good for sixth in the majors. They hold a huge edge in the department over the Cubs and the 179 runs they have scored this season. Scoring runs isn’t the only thing the Reds do well, they are pretty good at preventing the other team from doing so. They have a 3.31 team ERA which is third best in the Majors, you add up that kind of offense, and pitching and you get a team that is 29-18 on the season. The Cubs will need a perfect series in order to take two out of three this weekend.
The Cubs were swept in Pittsburgh, three games that we should all just forget about.
The Reds are rolling as they have won three straight, and eight out of their last ten. They are coming off a three game sweep of the Mets in New York.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, May 24, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN
- Saturday, May 25, 2013 – 3:10 PM CST on WGN
- Sunday, May 26, 2013 – 12:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Scott Feldman (4-3, 2.19)
– Career vs. Reds (first appearance)
Game Two – Travis Wood (4-2, 2.24)
– Career vs. Reds (3 GS) (0-1, 4.42)
Game Three – Matt Garza (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Reds (4 GS) (1-2, 3.80)
Game One – Bronson Arroyo (4-2, 3.25)
– Career vs. Cubs (28 appearances, 26 GS) (11-9, 2.99)
Game Two – Homer Bailey (2-3, 3.09)
– Career vs. Cubs (10 GS) (5-2, 5.12)
Game Three – Johnny Cueto (2-0, 3.22)
– Career vs. Cubs (18 GS) (8-6, 3.01)
The Cubs send their number four, five, and one starters to the mound in this series, and oddly enough that might be their best chance to win. Travis Wood, and Scott Feldman have been as good as any pitcher this year, not just on the Cubs either. With that said, the Reds are finding their groove and the Cubs look disinterested so I think they lose two out of three this weekend. HOWEVER, of course there is a however, I think if they can steal the first game tonight they could win two out of three, fingers crossed.
Cub to Watch:
Time for Anthony Rizzo to get back on track as he has struggled since signing his big contract extension. Could that be a product of Rizzo trying to justify his contract, I don’t think so, I think he is just pressing at the moment knowing he is a big part of this offense and is struggling. Rizzo has had success against Arroyo in the past (3-for-8), if he has a big night tonight then expect a big series as Rizzo usually parlays one big game into a torrid week or so.
After six innings this afternoon the game was scoreless, and looked like it was impossible to score runs given the missed opportunities. Fast forward three innings and the Reds were 5-3 winners and clinched a spot in the 2012 playoffs. Jason Berken made his second start as a Cub and this one was fantastic, and a really nice bounce back after his first start. Berken went six strong innings only allowing two hits while walking two and striking out five. Berken was in command all day, throwing 86 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. Unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t solve Johnny Cueto, but they had a number of chances as they finished the day just 1-for10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 guys on in all. Five different Cubs had two hits in this one, the only issue was only one other player had a hit in the game, usually makes it tough to score runs. The Cubs were able to score singular runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings but it wasn’t enough as the Reds put a five-spot on the board against Manny Corpas in the seventh to build what turned out to be an insurmountable 5-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo was 2-for-5 with a double, and two RBI’s giving him 45 on the season. Starlin Castro also continued his hot hitting September going 2-for-4 with a triple.
Berken’s Solid Outing
Thanks for reading,
The Reds come to Chicago for a three game series starting Tuesday, September 18. The Reds have all but locked up the division, but are just 5-5 in their last ten, including losing series’ to both the Marlins and the Astros. The Reds have gotten Joey Votto back since we last saw them, but Aroldis Chapman has been shut down for a little bit and the Cubs will not face him this weekend. The Cubs on the other hand have been playing good baseball as of late going 7-3 in their last ten and splitting their most recent series against the Pirates. The Cubs can’t really play spoiler against the Reds, but they can postpone the Reds clinching the division for a few days and hopefully against somebody else. Alfonso Soriano went over the 100 RBI plateau last week and he will look to hit his 30th home run this series against the Reds.
Record: 88-59 (road, 41-31) 1st in Central
Runs Scored: 627 – 8th in NL
Team ERA: 3.44 – 2nd in NL
Last 10: 5-5
Last Series: Lost two of three to the Marlins
Record: 58-89 (home, 36-36) 5th in Central
Runs Scored: 565 – 15 in NL
Team ERA: 4.46 – 14th in NL
Last 10: 7-3
Last Series: Split with the Pirates
Here are the pitching matchups for the series.
Season Series: Reds lead series 9-4
Prediction: Cubs lose series 2-1
Thanks for Reading,