A third win in a row would be nice tonight -- the Cubs haven't won that many in a row since their five-game winning streak in mid-May was ended with that eight-game losing streak. They have won six of nine since that streak ended -- despite not really hitting on all cylinders in those nine games. They've scored only 33 runs in those nine, but allowed even fewer: 23. The team ERA in those nine games is 1.99, best in the major leagues in that time frame, and the season ERA is now 4.13, which ranks seventh in the league. A couple more good outings and the Cubs could move up into the top five.
Jake Fox will get a start tonight (see the lineup below, hitting cleanup, no less -- to showcase him?), and he's certainly saying and doing all the right things:
"If that's what's going to help this team, then you know what? I want to play in the big leagues however it happens," Fox said of the showcase speculation. "Maybe that's the truth, maybe it's not. But while I'm here I want to make sure I help this team any way I can."
Fox, who has been picking Micah Hoffpauir's brain for pinch-hitting advice, is 3-for-4 with a double and RBI as a pinch hitter, 3-for-7 overall since his call-up.
He also has been working hard on his fielding, taking a lot of grounders, particularly at third base, trying to rewrite the perception that he's a designated hitter stuck in the National League.
Lineup via Twittermyer:
Soriano, lf; Theriot, ss; Lee, 1b; Fox, rf; Johnson, cf; Soto, c; Scales, 2b; Fontenot, 3b; Dempster, p
Alfonso Soriano's knee is better -- and it happened in a strange way:
"The other day in the first inning when he hit the ball down the line and he sort of stopped at first, I think he might have had some adhesions or something [in his left knee], and his leg started to feel better after that," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
The way Soriano made the turn may have broken up some scar tissue in his knee.
Finally, Nick Friedell continues his ex-Cub interview series with this talk with Kerry Wood.
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2009 - Ryan Dempster||4-3||11||11||0||0||0||0||68.1||60||35||34||8||27||57||4.48||1.27|
Ryan Dempster has made a ton of appearances -- 34 -- against a team he pitched for briefly before his arm went out in 2003. He made three starts against them in 2008, with two wins and a loss, which is more relevant than the 4.41 career ERA he sports vs. the Reds. Most of the current Reds roster has done poorly against him -- no one who is on their current 25-man roster has ever homered off him.
Matt Maloney was acquired by the Reds in 2007 for Kyle Lohse. He's a control pitcher -- has a career 1.18 WHIP in the minors -- and will be making his major league debut tonight.
Tonight's game is on cable in the Cincinnati area, and also nationally on WGN. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.
Overflow comment threads will post today at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT.
Discuss amongst yourselves.