Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cubs v Reds – Baseball Breakdown by Kev Hute

Cubs Transition into Tuesday-Thursday

The day after an inspiring 9th inning comeback, St. Louis Cardinals fans were eager for the rubber match of the weekend series on Sunday afternoon. By the time the 8th inning was over, you could hear a pin drop in Busch Stadium as the Cubs took a 5-1 lead on Geovany Soto’s home run, and stretched Russ Springer's 8th inning into 30-plus pitches.

After Sunday afternoon’s 7-1 victory, Cubs manager Lou Piniella was asked about the blown save by Kerry Wood during Saturday’s thriller, and how it affected the team in game 3. "Those things happen," he said. "They happen a few times a year and the problem is you don't like 'em when they happen. We bounced back, and now we can enjoy our day off a little more."

They were about to enjoy their off day until Monday morning when the Cubs personnel turned on their TVs. They realized their shot at a World Series title became a little tougher over night. The division rival Milwaukee Brewers traded for Carston Charles Sabathia and are clearly taking a “win now” approach. Sabathia and Sheets were catching up on old times as they sat together at the top of the dugout, laughing and chatting through much of the game against the Rockies. That is of course after Carston Charles found some pants that fit from Prince Fielder. I wonder if management had it planned like that. Either way it’s a done deal and the N.L. is no steal because of it.

The nervous buzz that started to loom around the north side prompted the Cubs to immediately inquire about Rich Harden. Why would the A’s want to part with Harden right now? They have been waiting for this overflow of production out of Harden since 2006. They always knew he had the potential, but he could just never stay healthy much like Ben Sheets.

The Cubs are 31-10 in the friendly confines this season, and will look to begin another home winning streak before the all star break when they invite the Reds in on Tuesday night. The Cubs are 3-3 against the Reds this year, and were 8-6 against them last year.

Chicago should win, if not sweep, this series because they thrive on playing at home and are mentally tough enough to use the Sabathia trade as motivation. Lou Piniella makes this happen. Tuesday Ryan Dempster makes his 11th start at home, and the Cubs are 10-0 in his previous starts at home this season. This is coming from the guy who predicted a championship. That’s called backing it up. Though he has backed it up so far, really all that matters is the finish.

Cincinnati has scored 5.85 runs/9 in their last 10 against RHP.Harang has faced the Cubs twice this year and has surrendered an average of 4 ER in his last three starts against them (all losses.) He is 8-5 with a 4.57 in career match-ups, and is 1-6 on the road this year with a 5.20 ERA. Dempster and Harang both have an uncharacteristic era of over 6.00 in their last 3 starts.

By: Kevin Hute

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