Goin' South: Cubs vs. Braves, Tuesday 6/2, 6:10 CT

"Goin' south", of course, is where the Cubs are headed in the United States, presumably (and hopefully) not where they are headed in the standings. This road trip, beginning with the three vs. the Braves, gives the team a real shot at improving their standing in the NL Central. Before the last road trip, a complete 0-6 disaster, the Cubs had actually played well on the road, going 9-8 in their first 17 road games of 2009. Remember, the Cubs did not go over .500 on the road last year until the sweep in Milwaukee in July.

Chris DeLuca's column today has some yawner ideas, including the same ol' Jake Peavy talk (no, Chris, Peavy isn't going to Milwaukee), but he does have one thought worth mentioning:

Outfielder Reed Johnson has been his hottest hitter and deserves to stay in the lineup until he cools. Bradley likely won't sit with his bat warming up and Kosuke Fukudome has been steady, so now seems like a good time to give Soriano's ailing left knee a little rest.

And now that I've gone on record as agreeing with DeLuca, here's the reason NOT to rest Soriano in this series: his lifetime splits in Turner Field, which read .362/.423/.768 with 5 doubles, a triple and 7 HR in 69 career at-bats. Bruce Miles doesn't see Soriano getting rested, either.

Dave van Dyck has a nice profile of tonight's starter, Randy Wells, in which we learn that Wells, through failure and perseverance, has learned what it takes to succeed in the major leagues:

"I'm in a good place right now personally and baseball-wise," [Wells] said. "Everything's just kind of falling into place. I don't try to be anything I'm not, I don't try to be Carlos Zambrano, I don't try to throw 100 [m.p.h.]. I sink the ball, change speeds and if I come out on top, I come out on top.

"Confidence is huge. I would be the first to admit I don't have great stuff, I don't have top-of-the-line starter stuff, I probably don't even have fifth-starter stuff. But the thing is, I have confidence knowing ... I battled when I got into situations. The next step is to not get in those situations anymore."

The key to that quote is "I don't try to be anything I'm not." Too many pitchers do this; I think that was part of Jason Marquis' problems, when he wasn't on -- he was trying to throw 95+, which he wasn't capable of. Wells seems to understand -- I think the Cubs lucked into a good middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells

vs. Kenshin Kawakami
Kenshin Kawakami
0-2 W-L 3-6
1.80 ERA 4.73
23 SO 44
7 BB 23
0 HR 5
vs. Atl -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Randy Wells 0-2 4 4 0 0 0 0 25.0 22 5 5 0 7 23 1.80 1.16

2009 - Kenshin Kawakami 3-6 11 9 0 0 0 0 51.1 54 31 27 5 23 44 4.73 1.50

Neither of tonight's starting pitchers has faced the other team before. (Seems like there's a lot of that going around lately.) As noted in dragonsfanatic's translation of Kosuke Fukudome's most recent diary, Kenshin Kawakami and Fukudome were teammates for nine years in Japan, so they've never faced each other, either. Randy Wells has been very good in his four starts thus far. Kawakami has issued more walks than he'd probably like. The Cubs need to start being more patient.

Remember when you could watch Cubs/Braves games on TBS if they weren't on WGN? Not any more -- these days the Braves are "local" to Atlanta TV again. But, today's game is on WGN, so it will be available nationally. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter anyway.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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