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The Cubs go back to the day game schedule for a couple days, hosting the Milwaukee Brewers today at 1:20pm CT. Ryan Dempster gets his second start of the season, as does Yovani Gallardo. Here’s hoping each recreates their first outing. Dempster was excellent, Gallardo was terrible.

On the Cubs’ lineup, it’s nice to see some lefties in there, but why does Dale Sveum continue to bat Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart back-to-back? Break them up, dude. Otherwise, a lefty reliever late in the game becomes an easy call for the Brewers.

For the Brewers, Ryan Braun gets the day off. Or is he just hiding behind his really cool mask?

Game Info

Milwaukee Brewers (3-2) at Chicago Cubs (1-4), 1:20pm CT on WGN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Yovani Gallardo (0-1, 14.73 ERA, 9.8 HR/9 (just for fun))

versus

Ryan Dempster (0-0, 1.17 ERA, 0.652 WHIP)

Milwaukee Brewers Lineup

1. Norichika Aoki, LF

2. Nyjer Morgan, RF

3. Rickie Weeks, 2B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Mat Gamel, 1B

6. Alex Gonzalez, SS

7. George Kottaras, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

9. Yovani Gallardo, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Ian Stewart, 3B

6. Bryan LaHair, 1B

7. Geovany Soto, C

8. Marlon Byrd, CF

9. Ryan Dempster, P

  • HoustonTransplant

    Totally agree about the lefties being back to back. It doesn’t seem to make much sense. Is flipping LaHair and Soto that big of an atrocity? I don’t understand.

    • Cubs style

      No kidding. Why doesn’t Lahair go 4th and Sori 5th Stewart 6th. Lahair is 4 for 9 with a homer and .500 obp. Why in the hell isn’t he playing everyday too?? Give the guy a shot… They need pop desperately leave Lahair alone. Your going to sit him against lefties in favor of Baker???

      • SirCub

        I wouldn’t mess with Sori in the 4-spot right now… he is in a groove. But yea, just juggle around 5-8 and you’ve got a nice L-R-L-R thing going on.

        • ETS

          I love Sori behind Castro. It means sliders in the dirt and pitches to steal on.

        • hardtop

          for that matter how about starlin back in the 2 hole and lahair batting 3rd? then you’d be l-r in the top of the order too… and castro might be a little more comfortable. dar-bar in the eight hole.

           

          • Shawon O’Meter

            I love lineup construction!

            This makes the most to me…

            DeJesus – RF
            Castro – SS
            LaHair – 1B
            Soriano – LF
            Stewart – 3B
            Soto – C
            Jackson – CF
            Barney – 2B

            Wait, did I just put BJax in the lineup? You betcha! Byrd’s approach at the plate is awful. It’s time to move on…

            • hardtop

              yep, just exactly how i had it, except with byrd.  right now, its more about whats best for Jackson and the long term interests of the club.  byrdman needs to stay in there for the time being.  you could bring campana up, but he doesnt have much value in the 7 or 8 hole.

              • Cubs Dude

                Byrd has the bat speed of Ted Lilly at this point in his career.

                • Joe

                  I don’t know about bat speed, but the dude just grounded out on the first pitch he saw today. WTF. I used to love him. LOVE. Now, I see his tattoo has nothing to do with discipline and everything to do with LOOK AT ME. That’s a far more embarrassing attitude when you don’t remotely have the chops to back it up. Sigh.

                  No BJax yet, but yes to Campy or somebody else. I wish we could trade Marlon for something, but I don’t see it happening if he keeps having crappy at-bats like that.

                  • Cubs Dude

                    Yeah not sure what is up with Byrd. He looks really bad though. He looks like a slap hitter with the patience of Vlad Guerrero, praying for a single. Trade value= 0 considering his salary. Theo overplayed his hand on that dude.

      • Dave H

        With back spasms, you need to be careful with the weather. Swinging a bat is not a natural thing for a back to be doing in April evenings.

      • Andrew

        I think it may be that lahair is still somewhat recovering from the back thing so for the early going getting him some time off intermittently isn’t a terrible thing.

        • FromFenwayPahk

          He looked very comfortable in his HR at bat, both physically and mentally.

          • DocPWimsey

            Having recently learned the “joys” of back spasms thanks to my non-ergonomic 3-year old, I can attest that “swivel’ motions go from easy to excruciating with just a slight change in trajectory. I know that there are particular swings that could easily hurt like the lower levels of Hades right now….

    • gratefulled

      I.dont.get.it.

      Can we get Mather a start? Please!

      • hardtop

        some starters rested yesterday though… dont see an advantage to getting mather in today against right handed pitching…

  • Andrew

    I tend to agree about splitting up the lefties, but at the same time, Sveum is a statistically inclined manager and maybe the bloomberg sports program has shown something proprietary about batting two lefties in a row. Also maybe it doesnt let the righthanded starter intentionally walk one of the lefties to get the righty matchup. I’d be interested if a reporter could get what his line of reasoning is for not splitting them up.

  • Cubmig

    It would be good for the press to ask Sveum for his reasoning on the lefty-lefty order. Maybe he knows something we don’t—

  • ProfessorCub

    The only thing I can think of re: the lefty/lefty order is that Dale believes that he can use Baker or Mather as a pinch-hitter for LaHair if a lefty reliever is brought in to face Stewart/LaHair late in the game. I’d still like to see them broken up. Andrew has an interesting point about a possible advantage of having two lefties in a row – I’d love for a reporter to ask Dale about it.

  • Dick

    It makes little sense to put LaHair 6th. Castro leads off, LaHair 3rd, DeJesus 8th. Lineup done!

  • Rob

    Guys – with Stewart (L) batting 5th and LaHair (L) 6th, IF an opposing manager wants to bring in a lefty to face both guys late in a ball game, he is going to bring them to start against Stewart. THEN, Svuem can take Stewart down for a Jeff Baker, who kills lefties – then the opposing manager has to keep the lefty in there against Baker, who kills lefties, or burn the lefty and not have him to face LaHair. Pretty smart, actually.

    • ProfessorCub

      Yes. That was what I was trying to say – good point. It would be interesting to see if that’s actually what Dale is thinking.

    • npnovak

      if a pitcher goes out to the mound, he has to pitch to at least one batter

      • Myles

        Technically true. He must throw a single pitch, which could be a pitchout, intentional ball, or pickoff attempt. He’s then eligible to leave the game.

  • Cory

    I honestly think baker starting last night had more to do with lahair coming off a sore back then how he hits lefties cold weather is terrible for a sore back. So let’s hope that’s the case and not just how baker hits lefties since id of rather of sat stewart and put baker at 3rd. I also would love to see lahair behind soriano and Stewart and byrd flip flopped.

  • Kyle

    Take notes, Cubs fans: Gallardo’s first start was every bit as bad as Maholm’s, and he’s cruising today.

    You can’t tell very much just based on one bad start.

    • Cubs Dude

      I am not talking results, but how bad Maholm looked on the eyes. Honestly, i was taken back how little life his pitches had. One start means jack, but it seemed something much more with him. I will shut up now and hope he can turn it around..

    • Bric

      Byrd and Soto looks as bad as I’ve ever seen them. In five games both look absolutely clueless behind the plate. If you’re going to make contact, make contact. If you’re going to move the runners up, then think about how to do it. But don’t just stand up there and hope something’s going to happen. Once again it amazes me that Jarimillo seems to annually stay below the radar in terms of criticism for virtually no reason. He should’ve been gone with Hendry.

      • Cedlandrum

        I am not watching today so I have no idea how he looks today, but last night Soto hit a bomb and drilled one up the middle that was robbed by Weeks. He may look awful today, but yesterday he was on it. Byrd on the other hand has been garbage.

        • Bric

          Thanks for the correction (although as I type this he just struck out with a pitch in his eyes) but I didn’t see the game last night. I was just going on the games over the weekend, Monday and today.

          • Cedlandrum

            well sounds like he was awful today.

        • npnovak

          he was pretty bad yesterday too, even thought he hit a home run. he wasn’t putting together good at-bats or fouling pitches off. he’s been swinging and missing at too many pitches. I’d like a little more contact before saying someone is “on it” on a particular day.

      • cubmig

        Maybe Rudy is threading carefully—–after all, his boss has a lot of ideas about developing-improving hitting. Could that be why Jaramillo may be keeping a low profile?

  • Cheryl

    But there’s a lot of difference with this team vs. last year’s. They haven’t won much but they don’t give up like last year’s. If they continue like this in terms of not giving up they’ll be a lot better over the long haul. But I still see more trades on the horizon.

    • DocPWimsey

      Again, the “they gave up last year” refrain misses what actually happened. Last year, the Cubs often were behind early in the game. Only 4 (awful) teams gave up more 1st inning runs, and the teams ERA through the first few innings was among the worst in the game. If the offense really was “giving up,” then they should have been at the bottom of the league in runs-scored, as the Cubs were trailing by multiple runs more often than any but the worst teams. However, the Cubs wound up with a dead-average offense: and one that scored relatively evenly throughout the game: relative to MLB average for each inning, the Cubs were always middle-of-the-pack.

      In other words, we saw a lot of games like the last two nights: the Cubs got behind early and slowly (and ineffectually) closed the gap.

      • Cheryl

        Maybe “gave up” is the wrong term to describe last year’s effort, but there seems to be a definite change in attitude.

  • DocPWimsey

    This is pure “anecdote” but does it seem to others that “rallies” beginning with poorly hit balls are much more apt to fizzle than “ralllies” that start with hard-hit balls and/or walks? The Cubs 7th seemed to be a classic example: yeah, the first two guys got on base, but neither really got the better of Gallardo. Nobody else did the remainder of the inning.

  • JOF

    Really nice to see some patience from Castro and Soriano here in 8.

  • Doug

    Ugh!! Just wait till next year! No wait, the year after that!!

  • ty

    Cubs 1-5 Red Sox 1-5 Hmn

  • Can’t think of a cool name

    I am in pain. Regardless of Theo and Jed’s plans, it hurts to watch these games. Let’s hope we can turn this around.

  • morgan

    1) disappointed with the number of fans at wrigley so early 2) byrd looks like he forgot to take his victor conte pills in the offseason 3) axford made the cubs look like lil leaguers with his 95 mph fast ball he threw by all of them 4) Cubs could be the worse team in the league with little propects ready to come up besides jackson and rizzo

    • Kyle

      That’s something that the people who are excited about tanking the season tend to overlook. Repeated seasons of awful will cause lower attendance, which means lower revenues, which means less money to execute the grand plans.

  • Ryan

    I’m not sure if they keep this stat, but if they do, I would venture to guess the cubs will have the most strikeouts on balls out of the strikezone in mlb history, and i don’t even think it will be close. This team has so many guys that you can get out by throwing pitches out of the zone, more than any team I can remember, and that’s saying a lot since most cubs teams are like this, but this team just seems like every regular swings at bad pitches, with the exception of maybe dejesus.

  • ty

    Quade–please accept apology.

  • Ryan

    I know everyone can’t wait until rizzo and jackson get up here, and think that lahair and byrd’s time is numbered, but does anyone else think that soto’s time should be numbered. Give wellington castillo/ clevinger the job, soto looks disinterested, fat and completely out of shape, completely lost at the plate and pretty much a shell of what he was for a couple years.

    • gocubbies

      I agree

    • Bric

      I’ve been saying that since his little dope incident. I’m not a big numbers guy so I’ve always been confused about his so-called “up year, down year” trend. In my mind it’s been all down since his rookie year. Anyone that thinks otherwise just look at the overall win-loss number because that’s the only one that counts. And he was a major part of it.

      I still chuckle when thinking about the posters who said he would get a “metric ton” of prospects if traded last July. And laugh even louder every time I’ve brought it up since then and these guys throw out all kinds of B.S. like his contract status, league years, etc. to defend the position. True, these things matter. But the sad reality is he wasn’t and will not be traded because no one wants him. There is no up side.

      • DocPWimsey

        “I’m not a big numbers guy so I’ve always been confused about his so-called “up year, down year” trend.”

        You don’t need to be a numbers guy. Soto posted a .280/.393/.497 line in 2010, which was easily his best year in MLB. That trumped his .285/.364/.504 line from 2008. That was good for a few wins over a replacement catcher: remember, it’s not the team W-L record, but how much worse it would have been without him that measures the player.

  • rbreeze

    Byrd got into such great shape this winter that he forgot to work on his swing.  He is late on every pitch and he looks awful.  Now he has less trade value.  Either our talent sucks or Jaramillo sucks as a batting coach.  Or maybe you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear?  Let Johnson play a couple of games in center.  At least he hits the ball on the nose.

    LaHair needs to play everyday.  How far does he have to hit a ball like last nights HR in order to justify that?  Jeff Baker is a journeyman at best.

    Dempster pitches another quality game and gets nothing.  4 quality starts by the starting staff and one win to show for it.

    Sounds a little like last year………..but I will curb my anxieties and wait until July and hopefully the kids will have arrived and start their on the job training for the future.  I will wait.

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