Going For Another Red Sweep: Cubs vs. Reds, Wednesday 8/5, 6:10 CT

The Cubs go for their seventh straight win over the Reds this evening (they won the final game of a three-game series in Cincinnati in June, swept them in Chicago, and have won the first two of this series). The Reds seem a team in disarray, though to be fair, a lot of it is missing three starters (Jay Bruce, Chris Dickerson and Scott Rolen, who isn't on the DL but probably will not play tonight) and putting a makeshift lineup on the field.

I almost feel sorry for Dusty Baker. Almost.

With the Mets' blowout of the Cardinals this afternoon, the Cubs can take a one-game lead in the NL Central with a win.

Bruce Miles discusses "quality starts" and how the Cubs starters have far exceeded the minimum "6 IP, 3 ER" standard for that stat:

The numbers are even more impressive for the Cubs’ starters since July 1. In that time, the Cubs have gotten 19 quality starts. The team’s record in those games is 17-2, and the ERA of the starters in quality-start games since July 1 is 1.93.

In this period, they’ve had only 3 starts of the minimum kind: Carlos Zambrano’s July 12 start, Randy Wells’ July 24 start and Kevin Hart’s July 30 start. Maybe the Cubs didn’t like that one, because they traded Hart right after the game.

That's the key -- the 4.50 ERA you get for the minimum 6 IP, 3 ER quality start is simply a starting point. The Cubs also lead the major leagues in starts that have gone into the seventh inning -- that's an even more important benchmark, I think. That's helped the team win despite the semi-frequent bullpen meltdowns.

Gordon Wittenmyer has some notes about the minor league adventures of Geovany Soto and B.J. Ryan. In short: Geo will be back Friday, and Ryan threw another scoreless inning.

Site note: there have been quite a few posts lately asking "how good are these seats?" and "how do I get to Wrigley from..." In response to this, I have created The BCB All-Purpose "Where's My Seat?" "How Do I Get To Wrigley" Thread. Post any requests like this in that post -- it is permanently on the right sidebar under "BCB Specials and Site Info". That way we won't have the FanPost list overrun with requests like this. Thanks.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Justin Lehr
Justin Lehr
Reds
7-6 W-L 0-0
4.50 ERA 5.40
115 SO 0
41 BB 6
19 HR 0
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 7-6 19 18 0 0 0 0 98.0 91 54 49 19 41 115 4.50 1.35


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Justin Lehr 0-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 4 3 3 0 6 0 5.40 2.00

Justin Lehr had some mediocre relief years for the A's and Brewers in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He spent two years trying to get back to the majors, and did so on July 31 for the Reds, making his first major league start. In that start he threw 97 pitches in five innings, and that's not a misprint -- he walked six and struck out none. Thus if the Cubs can be patient, they should do fine tonight. Only one Cub has more than one career AB vs. Lehr -- Alfonso Soriano, who is 2-for-4. Lehr, in case you have never heard of him, is no kid prospect -- he turned 32 on Monday.

Rich Harden has lowered his ERA nearly a full run in his last four starts, from 5.47 to 4.50. In those four starts he is 2-0, 1.50, with 32 strikeouts and 5 walks in 24 innings. That's the Harden we got last July and the guy we need him to be. He has never lost to the Reds (4-0, 2.59 in four starts, though this is his first career start in Cincinnati), and gave them only one hit -- Joey Votto's first-inning homer -- on July 26 at Wrigley Field. That is, incidentally, the only hit Votto has off Harden in 7 career AB.

TV tonight is once again cable-only, CSN Chicago and FSN Ohio. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 7:15 pm, 8:15 pm and 9 pm CDT. And the first pitch thread WILL be up at 6 pm CDT today, as usual.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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