Friday, August 17, 2012

11 notes you need to know for Cubs series

A smorgasbord of baseball will be on tap this weekend at Great American Ball Park as Dale Sveum brings his fifth-place Chicago Cubs (46-70) into Cincinnati for a 4-game clash against the NL Central-leading Reds (72-46). Dusty Baker's club enters Friday riding the longest active winning streak in the majors at six and are no doubt looking to surpass their season-high streak of 10 set back in late-July.

Though little remains at stake for the Cubbies this year, the Reds are hoping to increase their division lead and inch ever closer to both securing a playoff berth and earning homefield advantage throughout the postseason. They will be aiming to do that without the services of their best player, Joey Votto, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since July 16th.
Amazingly, the team has gotten by just fine in Votto's absence as evidenced by their 22-8 record. A large part of their success has been due to some stellar pitching turned in by their starters and relievers, as well as the hot hitting by Ryan Ludwick, Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips (among others) to help fill the void offensively. But can they continue to hold the fort down while their All-Star and MVP first basemen is on the pine?

Here's 11 notes about the weekend series against the boys from Chi-Town:

1. Game times are as follows:

Friday - 7:10 PM
Saturday - 1:10 PM (Game One) & 7:10 PM (Game Two)
Sunday - 1:10 PM

2. Here are the pitching probables:

Fri: CIN Bronson Arroyo (8-7, 3.85) vs CHI Travis Wood (4-8, 4.52)
Sat (1:10): CIN Johnny Cueto (15-6, 2.45) vs CHI Jeff Samardzija (8-10, 4.06)
Sat (7:10): CIN Todd Redmond (0-0) vs CHI TBA
Sun: CIN Mat Latos (10-3, 3.63) vs CHI Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.96)

3. In a rut - Chicago has lost 12 of their last 15 games dating back to July 31st, but won two out of three in their most recent series against the lowly Astros.

4. It's a long way up! The Cubs enter play on Friday 25.0 games back of first place in the division. That's the second-largest deficit for any club in MLB (HOU/33.5).

5. Doubleheader's rule - Saturday's afternoon affair is a makeup game from a rainout on May 1st. Double the baseball, double the fun!

6. Darkness is evil - No team has fewer wins during night games this season than Chicago (21). The next-closest is Houston with 28.

7. A tale of opposites - The Redlegs are 31-20 against NL Central foes in 2012 while the Cubbies are 20-31.

8. Numbers don't lie - The Cubs currently rank dead last in MLB in both runs scored (429) and walks (287), last in the NL in OBP (.298), OPS (.678), sacrifices (30), K/BB (1.96) and hit batsman allowed (42), and 13th in both ERA (4.32) and WHIP (1.37.).

9. Past and present records - The Lovable Losers lead the all-time series against the Redlegs by a tally of 1,081-1,099. However, Cincinnati leads the season series, 6-3.

10. Weekend warriors - Cincy hasn't lost a game played on Friday or Saturday since June 22nd (MIN). They're a perfect 14-0 in games played on those days since then and are 23-4 in all weekend contents dating back to June 8th.

11. One last dance - The division rivals will hook-up for a series one more time in '12 after this weekend. They close out their season series with a 3-game set at Wrigley Field in September (18-20).

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