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Cubs vs. Giants Preview, Thursday 9/23, 6:05 CT: Castro For The Defense

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One thing I forgot to mention in the recap of last night's win was the slick double play turned by Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney in the seventh inning, when it appeared Randy Wells might be in a bit of trouble. Castro knocked a ball down that was headed to center field, made a nearly blind flip to Barney, who measured his throw perfectly to double up Jose Guillen.

Castro has made a lot of errors this year, but he is 20 years old -- that's almost to be expected. His range is superior and as he learns the major league game better I expect him to be an outstanding defensive SS. Barney is rock-solid defensively at both 2B and SS and I would expect he could do that as a backup 3B as well -- the Cubs haven't really had a good defensive backup third baseman since Mark DeRosa left (Note: this is not a plea to bring him back, only to say that the Cubs haven't had anyone decent to play the position in Aramis Ramirez's absence since 2008). Barney will be a very good backup IF for the 2011 Cubs.

Since Mike Quade took over from Lou Piniella the Cubs are 18-8 and have won six of eight series (losing series only to the Reds and Astros). They can make that seven of nine (resistance is futile!) by winning tonight. Remember, tonight's game starts an hour earlier than the usual starting time for a home night game, at 6:05 CDT.

One more note about tonight: the Giants have allowed three or fewer runs in 16 consecutive games. That ties a MLB record set by the 1981 A's (a good team) and the 1972 Indians (not a good team). The Giants are only 11-5 in those 16 games despite the great pitching. Perhaps the Cubs can end that streak tonight.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan
Dempster

Cubs
vs. Madison Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner
Giants
14-10 W-L 5-6
3.50 ERA 3.27
190 SO 70
81 BB 24
22 HR 11
vs. SF -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ryan Dempster 14-10 32 31 1 0 0 0 200.2 178 95 78 22 81 190 3.50 1.29


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Madison Bumgarner 5-6 18 16 0 0 0 0 99.0 105 39 36 11 24 70 3.27 1.30

Madison Bumgarner started against the Cubs on August 9 in San Francisco; they scored two runs off him in the first inning and he left the game training. The Cubs bullpen blew the lead. (Sound familiar?) It is his only career start vs. the Cubs; he gave up eleven hits in five innings, including doubles to Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro.

Ryan Dempster started -- and won -- the only game the Cubs won in that four-game series in SF on August 10. He has thrown 200 innings for the third straight year and currently ranks eighth in the NL in strikeouts (if he strikes out nine or more, he'll jump to sixth ahead of Ubaldo Jimenez and Jonathan Sanchez, who both threw yesterday). The last Cubs pitcher to have at least three consecutive years of 200 or more innings was Carlos Zambrano, who did it five years in a row from 2003-2007; before that Jon Lieber from 1999-2001.

Today's game is back on the CSN's, Chicago and Bay Area. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Giants site McCovey Chronicles.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 6 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.