The Cubs are heading into this series on a high note coming off a three game sweep in Pittsburgh, a sweep that put a major dent in the Pirates playoff hopes. It will be quite the different atmosphere in Houston as this three game set will be a battle for the first pick in the draft. Huge crowds usually don’t turn out for these types of series, couple that with the NFL season getting underway and it could be a very empty ballpark. The Cubs shouldn’t worry about that, they should worry about going out there and getting better with each game, and trying to win a job for next year. Two guys that have jobs locked up for next year, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo, are leading the Cubs charge as both are red-hot at the plate. Castro is hitting .333 in September, and Rizzo is hitting a whopping .382 during the month, unfortunately that hasn’t translated to many win as the Cubs are a less than stellar 3-6. If the Cubs want to extend their winning streak this week they are going to need the starting staff to step up as it will now be without Samardzija for the rest of 2012.
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Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.
Season Series: Chicago leads 5-4
Prediction: Cubs win series 2-1
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The Cubs could easily be accused as a team just going through the motions this year as they have a had a number of lifeless losses and currently sit 35 games under .500. Tonight was more of the same against the Nationals until Bo Porter, former Cub, and the Nationals third base coach, lit a fire under the club. After the Nationals stole a couple of bases, and Jayson Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch with a five run lead, catcher Steve Clevenger went to the dugout to get a new glove. Apparently Bo Porter didn’t like it, and started barking at the Cubs bench, Jaime Quirk took exception to Porter and the two got in a shouting match which resulted in benches clearing. Miraculously, Bo Porter, who started everything stayed at his post at third base, and Quirk was ejected. Fast forward to the 6th, the Cubs were determined to get the last word as Lendy Castillo threw at Bryce Harper, and missed. Harper walked towards the mound with Clevenger intercepting him before he could get too far, but the benches and bullpens were empty once again, this time with vigor. Nats reliever Michael Gonzalez kept running his mouth, which resulted in some more pushing and a possible sad attempt at a punch from Clevenger. Clevenger, and Corpas were ejected along with Gonzalez, that was the end of the extracurriculars, the butt kicking resumed after that. I will say this, it was nice to see a Cubs team answer the bell and finally say enough is enough, however when you are getting blasted night after night it makes you look rather sad. I was still happy to see it.
Now onto the third straight embarrassment on the field. Justin Germano got the start for the Cubs tonight, and didn’t fare much better then the Cubs starters that preceded him in this series. Germano was done after four innings, he gave up seven runs, six earned, on seven hits while walking two and striking out two. Germano left trailing 7-2, this was after the Cubs actually held a lead of 2-1 in the second inning. The Cubs had some success early against Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann as they scored in the first and second to take an early lead. Anthony Rizzo had a great day at the plate going 3-for-4 with his 12th home run of the season. Starlin Castro also did his best to keep the Cubs in this one as he was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and a run scored. On to Pittsburgh.
Incident #1 – Bo Porter NOT Ejected
Brett Jackson’s Great Catch
Barney Triples Home a Run
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Don’t get swept, and don’t give up six home runs….again. Justin Germano takes the ball for the Cubs against the Nats at 6:00 PM CST on CSN. Here’s how the Cubs will line up.
1. DeJesus – RF
2. Valbuena – 3B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Castro – SS
6. Clevenger – C
7. Jackson – CF
8. Barney – 2B
9. Germano – P
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Long time no see as the Cubs travel to Washington to take on the Nationals. When the two teams last met it was the opening series of the 2012 season, the Cubs were unsure of what the beginning of the build would look like, and the Nationals were a young upstart bunch. Fast forward five months and the Cubs are now feeling what’s it’s like to begin the process of building a perennial contender and the Nationals sit atop Major League baseball as the best team in the land. The Nationals are hurtling towards the finish, but the focus is on what or should I say who will not be with them as they descend on the postseason. I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals ace, who will make his last start on September 12, and miss the postseason because the organization wants to be cautious with him. To each their own, not sure I agree with it, but I understand it, I guess. The Cubs will miss Strasburg but will have to deal with the rest of a pitching staff that has buzzed its way through the National League. They will also have to deal with a Washington offensive attack that now features a rookie that won’t turn twenty years old until the playoffs are in progress. Bryce Harper has given the Nats a jolt and made them one of the most exciting teams in baseball, it’s up to the Cubs to temper that enthusiasm and slow down this well oiled machine.
Here are the four game series pitching matchups.
Season Series: Nationals lead 2-1
Prediction: Nationals Win Series 3-1
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Much like the Cubs did yesterday, the Giants jumped out in front early and rode that momentum to victory. Justin Germano got the start and struggled with his command early, and he can’t succeed if he doesn’t have his command. The Giants struck for four runs in the first, all coming after the first two hitters were retired. Germano finished his day after five innings giving up five runs on six hits while walking two and striking out two. His counterpart Tim Lincecum was good today, however he made plenty of mistakes over the middle of the plate but the Cubs couldn’t take advantage as they could only bang out five hits in the loss. David DeJesus got every bit of a Lincecum mistake in the third inning launching a massive two-run homer that bounced onto Sheffield Avenue to bring the Cubs to within three at 5-2. Unfortunately that was as close as the Cubs would get as they were shut down over the last six innings in this one. Anthony Rizzo also had a good day at the plate as he is starting to get hot again, he finished the day 2-for-4 with a double. The rubber game of the series takes place tomorrow afternoon where the Cubs will put their hopes of a series win in the hands of Travis Wood.
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Justin Germano will take the ball today against Tim Lincecum and the Giants today as the Cubs look to make it three wins in a row. There is a threat of rain today, so we will keep you updated if anything changes. The game is scheduled to start at 12:05 on WGN. Here is a look at the Cubs lineup today.
DeJesus – RF
Valbuena – 2B
Rizzo – 1B
Soriano – LF
Castro – SS
Castillo – C
Jackson – CF
Barney – 2B
Germano – P
Time to play spoiler as the West Division leading Giants roll into town for a weekend series. Ever since the Giants got the news that Melky Cabrera was going to be suspended they have taken off, and now hold a four game lead over the Dodgers in a race for the Western Division crown. The Giants are getting it done with a balanced attack as they are right in the middle of the pack in runs scored and ERA in the National League. The Cubs are going to need to have a solid offensive approach against the Giants if they want to take this series. The Giants are a baseball team in every sense of the word, they play, and win as a team. If the Cubs can do the same thing, and have an approach like they did in the series finale against the Brewers they might be able to play spoiler. The team could look rather different come Saturday as the rosters will expand, Sveum has cautioned that there might only be six or so call ups, we’ll see, and of course keep you updated.
August 31, 2012 – September 2, 2012; Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Here are this weekends pitching matchups.
Season Series: Giants lead series 4-0
Prediction: Giants sweep series 3-0
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