The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers close out a three-game series in the NL Central Thursday afternoon at Miller Park
Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago was unable to muster up a single run in last night’s 2-0 defeat at Miller Park and is now in jeopardy of getting swept. The Cubs are now 4-5 in the season series, including a 1-4 mark on the road. Playing against divisional foes has been a losing venture for the club, entering today with a dismal 15-26 mark. One player that has not suffered from the team’s dismal performance is third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who leads the Cubs with nine home runs and 22 RBI in July. On the other side, the starting staff has tallied nine quality starts in its last 12 outings and posted a 1.79 ERA in those nine efforts. Chicago is 31-29 following a loss this year and 3-3 after getting shutout.
Cubs starting pitcher Randy Wells is 2-3 with a 6.17 ERA in 11 starts this season and broke a two-game losing streak last time out. He tallied a 5-1 home win in that effort over the Astros, surrendering just a single run and five hits over six innings. Wells has yet to taste victory away from Wrigley Field, entering with a disappointing 0-1 record and 8.50 ERA in four outings, as opponents are hitting .342 against him. The right-hander has made nine lifetime appearances (seven starts) versus the Brewers, posting an even 2-2 mark and 4.32 ERA, including a no-decision effort at home on June 14. In that outing, he gave up four runs and five hits over six frames in a 5-4 win by Chicago.
Milwaukee leads the NL Central by the slimmest of margins and trails only Philadelphia for the best home record in baseball. The bullpen has become a major strength for the club since the acquisition of reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets, but the team will also have to deal with the loss of a major offensive weapon in the lineup. All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks will be placed on the 15-day disabled list today, suffering a left ankle injury in the second inning of last night’s game. Fellow All-Stars Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder will need to raise the levels of their already high offensive production, combining for 142 RBI this year. Milwaukee is 22-17 against divisional foes this year.
Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum is 9-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 21 starts this season and has won back-to-back outings. The right-hander has given up just four runs and eight hits over 12 innings of work in that span. Even with his recent success, Marcum has still given up at least one home run in seven consecutive starts. He has grown accustomed to his new surroundings at Miller Park, posting a 4-1 record and 4.35 ERA in 10 outings. The former Toronto Blue Jays hurler will be facing the Cubs for the first time in his career.
Bettors will likely back the Cubs due to their 16-7 mark after losing the first two games of a series, while the Brewers are 1-5 in Marcum’s last six efforts as a favorite.