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wrigley field from right bleachersHere we go. I’m not going to overstate today’s game – this is still one (probably) bad team facing another (very likely) bad team – but winning back-to-back four-game series, even against lowly teams, is pretty hard to pull off. The Cubs can do it today, which would pull them to within four games of .500.

The lineup is a bit wonky, even with Alfonso Soriano returning. Starlin Castro is sliding down into the five-hole, with Cody Ransom (there’s a lefty on the mound) batting second. Apparently Dale Sveum has said this isn’t a permanent change (lets hope not – the two-hold is arguably for your best hitter), but I wonder if this is a possible new “against lefties” lineup. We’ll see.

Scott Hairston has slipped all the way down to the 7th spot in the lineup.

Game Info

San Diego Padres (10-17) at Chicago Cubs (11-16), 1:20 CT on CSN.

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

Eric Stults (2-2, 5.67 ERA, 5.25 K/BB)

versus

Travis Wood (2-1, 2.25 ERA, 2.09 K/BB)

San Diego Padres Lineup

1. Chris Denorfia, CF

2. Everth Cabrera, SS

3. Chase Headley, 3B

4. Carlos Quentin, LF

5. Jesus Guzman, 1B

6. Kyle Blanks, RF

7. Jedd Gyorko, 2B

8. Nick Hundley, C

9. Eric Stults, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Dave Sappelt, CF

2. Cody Ransom, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Scott Hairston, RF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Travis Wood, P

  • Josh

    I like Castro in the 5 hole…his OBP is not high enough to stay at 2, and his ability to make contact will result in RBIs from that spot. DeJesus, valbuena, rizzo, Soriano, Castro, Schierholtz, Castillo, Barney, sounds like a good lineup. High OBP in the top two, Castro ensures that Soriano will see more fastballs (whether he does anything with them….).

  • willis

    I like him there as well. I think the argument would be that we all think he is the best hitter on the team. And he should see as many ABs as anyone. But in a run producing spot where he could very well see better pitches, may serve him well for awhile.

    And from what I hear the wind is blowing in hard today. That’s great news for Wood. Just throw strikes dude.

  • Josh

    I see that argument, and in a perfect world, yes that’s great. But how often have we seen rizzo and Castro on base and then the batters after, no matter who it is, fail to get the ball either in play or out of the infield? I agree that he needs to see more ABs though. Though call, runs vs abs. Bottom line, they need more impact players (as theo would say) following the 3 hole to drive in runs

  • sossa

    Dave sappelt again? Really? I thought they sent that guy back to AAA

    • willis

      Yep, this is getting old, hard headed, and tired.

  • baldtaxguy

    Agreed, Castro at 5 is a better fit.

    Sappelt needs to play better baseball today. His play thus far has been weak, where Bourbon or The Jesus should be more productive against a LH’r.

    • sossa

      Couldn’t agree more

    • willis

      Haha, Borbon or DeJesus could just stand there, never really taking the bat of their shoulders, and be more productive than Sappelt.

      I kid, kinda. I would rather see one of them in there though for sure.

    • BluBlud

      I disagree. I think of Castro, in a lineup with good power bats at 1st, LF/RF and 2nd/3rd, a good leadoff hitter and a another player with a high OBP as more of a typical 6 hitter behind those 5 players in a good lineup.

      In this lineup however, he probably better suited for the 5 spot.

      • baldtaxguy

        Yes, Castro at 5 is based on the current lineup. I should have been more clear.

      • hansman1982

        He does have a career 5% walk rate (which is better than Baez) so if he could find his way back to hitting .300-.310, he should have a .340-.350 OBP, good enough for a #2 hitter.

  • bbmoney

    Castro in the 5 hole is fine. Until Cody Ransom makes the last out of the game while hitting #2 and you realize that should have been Castro hitting there………..it’s bound to happen now that I’ve said it. I should have kept my mouth shut.

    So I’ll re-phrase, Castro hitting 5th would be fine, if we had a good offensive player to hit #2 which by most statistical accounts is where you best offensive player should hit.

    • bbmoney

      Ok so they pinch hit for ransom………

      • Corey

        Good call. I read this before the game and when they showed Schierholtz on deck, I laughed because I remembered reading this and already knew what was coming. It may have ended up being Valbuena, but still should have been Starlin.

        • bbmoney

          If Castro were a power guy I’d get it because he’s not really an ideal #2 hitter bc of the lack of walks. If they had a .360+ obp guy to hit #2 I’d get it.

          But otherwise with the options they’ve got it doesn’t make much sense. There are 9 line up spots. All else equal Castro 5th instead of 2nd takes the bat out of his hands one extra time in 22% of games and gives it to Ransom or Valbuena or Barney or whoever. Castro ain’t perfect but 100 times out of 100 I’d rather have him getting 1 more plate appearance than Cody ransom.

  • TampaCubsFan

    Question: 2 nights ago, Soriano hit a pop up to right field, which was dropped by the right fielder, seems to me if Soriano was hustling from home plate he should have been on second base easily. Coming on the heals of the Solar benching in Daytona, was Soriano benched yesterday for lack of effort from the previous night?

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    I would rather see Castro 3, Rizzo 4. Soriano is pretty much useless right now so I would bat him 6 and Castillo 5.

    • BluBlud

      My only problem with this is Castro would neve take a walk hitting in front of Rizzo. They are going to try like he’ll not to walk him in front of our best power bat, and he sure as hell is not going to force a walk. He would get good pitches to hit but I’m scared he’ll hit .315 with a .315 OBP. ;)

      We’ll, then again, that OBP is higher then where it is now.

      • Koyie Hill Sucks

        It’s the same problem you have with Castr hitting 2nd. I would like Castro to have more opportunities with RISP but where he will see more at bats than 5.

  • RY

    Could Hairston suck any more than he already does? Dude is just awful!

    • TWC

      Yeah. That HR sure sucked.

      Nitwit.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com ichabod

    hairstons got to go. awful. just awful

  • RY

    Wood deserves better than this anemic offense!

    • Cubbie Blues

      LaTroy Hawkins deserves better than this offense.

      • TWC

        No. No he doesn’t.

  • jt

    by what measure is Castro the teams best hitter?

  • RY

    did we even try to have wood bunt????????????

    • Kyle

      Yes. He was bunting until he had two strikes on him.

      • RY

        Thanks, i guess it wouldn’t have mattered anyway with clutch guys like sappelt and ransom up next.

  • bbmoney

    Ah yes….hit Castro 5 so he can get more ABs with runners in scoring position…….

    I know that’s a dumb comment by me, because there really are more ABs with RISP out of the 5 hole, but Cody Ransom batting 2nd? Sigh.

  • KidCubbie

    And just when you said Hairston sucks. Laser into the bleachers.

    • ssckelley

      Hairston has 4 total hits so far this season and 3 of them homers, the other hit a double.

  • willis

    Hairston with the big blast. He’s heating up a little it seems. Thank Heavens.

    • willis

      And by heating up I mean hitting HRs…the only thing he’s good for.

      • North Side Irish

        Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 5m
        #Cubs Hairston now 3-for-28 off LHP. All 3 H have been HR

        • ssckelley

          He is on pace to hit 15 home runs for the season and 30 RBIs in only 175 at bats. Rob Deer must be working with him. :D

  • ssckelley

    It appears Dave Sappelt is the new Joe Mather. I do not understand why you would put the guy with the 2nd worst on base percentage on the team and bat him leadoff.

    • bbmoney

      small sample size for the guy on the other side of a platoon on May 2.

      But I have a hard time advocating for Sappelt hitting leadoff.

      • ssckelley

        That might be true but let him work out his issues further down the lineup. If you really have to give DeJesus a rest then put someone else in that lead off position. Sitting DeJesus makes no sense unless he needs the day off, he has a career .324 OBP against lefties.

    • RY

      nobody will ever understand the method to Dale’s madness!

      • willis

        You can say that again.

        • whiteflag

          Maybe, he should have Wood leading off.

    • Kyle

      Sappelt has been much, much better than his raw numbers show. He’ll be fine.

  • whiteflag

    Speed.

  • John

    Oh great here come Camp!

    • willis

      Jesus, why Camp?

  • John

    Stupid Stupid Stupid. I wonder if Dale is just trying to lose these games.

    • willis

      I don’t think he’s smart enough for that. He’s just plain bad at in game managing.

  • Kyle

    Camp in a high leverage situation? C’mon Dale, you know I like you, but use your brainhead.

    Walk, infield single, bloop single, passed ball = tie game, because Cubs.

  • Rebuilding

    Why does Sveum keep making decisions that the minute he makes them you know are going to be bad? Your starter, who has absolutely dominated, induces a pop-up that gets misplayed so you go to a guy who has looked completely washed up all season. This is the 4th time this season he has removed a starter under 105 pitches after bad defense and arguably cost us a game. I know it doesn’t matter because we suck right?

    • hansman1982

      Really, bitching about pulling Wood at 96 pitches after a single and a walk?

      • Rebuilding

        Yes, 96 pitches. A lot different than 110. A bouncing ball up the middle and a ball outside on 3-2. It’s not like he was all over the place or getting hit hard. I’m a believer in pitch counts, but at around 110. Are you also going to defend bringing in Camp?

      • Kyle

        Yeah, I don’t mind pulling Wood. I just hate using Camp there. Crazy as it sounds, that situation called for Marmol.

        Once Castillo’s BABIP luck goes away, he’s kind of bad. He’s bad defensively and just sort of OK offensively. We could do worse at the position, I guess, but I’m not exactly feeling like we have the position nailed down for the next few years or anything.

        • whiteflag

          Does seem like Dale may be letting last year cloud his judgement with Camp.

        • ssckelley

          For once I agree with you, Marmol would have been a better option than Camp if you must make a pitching change. Gregg would have been a better choice as well since he is the hottest one in the pen right now.

      • willis

        To bring in Camp, who has repeatedly shit the bed this year in these situations? Yes, everyone should bitch. Yanking Wood or not is arguable either way, but bring in someone worth a shit instead of Camp. That was the mistake. Other guys have been throwing well out of the pen lately, and you had a complete game last night.

      • ssckelley

        Yep, I am complaining as well. I would have let Wood go 1 more batter, especially before bringing in Camp.

  • jason

    castillo didnt even hustle after the wild picth or past ball.l.. im pissed

  • willis

    I can’t believe they are going to lose this game. Unbelievable.

  • whiteflag

    Camp did so was pretty great last year, but he is looking worn out this year. Time to demote him.

    • whiteflag

      Camp was pretty great last year*

  • Kyle

    Cubs hit ball all over field, need a two-run homer to get on the board.

    Padres destroying us with ground balls, bloops and swinging bunts.

    Because Cubs.

    • hansman1982

      And people will be praising small ball for a week.

      • whiteflag

        Yep. I’ll be one of them.

  • http://bleachernation allen

    Wow. Fucking wow. Only the cubs

  • whiteflag

    This is going to be another heart-breaker. Great defensive plays and then trouble erupted

  • Rebuilding

    Brett, the other day you said in write-up that Sveum has seemed to “mostly push all of the right buttons”. Not trying to be argumentative, but what makes you feel that way? Are you talking just about motivation because that’s not something I can comment on, but his in-game management has been atrocious. And I know he doesn’t have a ton to work with, but he just seems to make the worst move possible over and over. He’s Quade bad

    • baldtaxguy

      He’s not that bad. I’ve seen in game moves that I did not understand, but half end up with positive results. “Worst move possible over and over?” No.

  • John

    This team is a .500 or winning ball club with a decent manager. I’m tired of the excuses. Castillo needs to sit on the bench for a week. Let Navarro play he is a much better defensive player.

    • whiteflag

      I think you over-estimate the power of a manager. Sveum isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t call him terrible by any means.

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