August 12, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
Cincinnati at Chi. Cubs
When: 2:20 PM ET, Sunday, August 12, 2012
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
After briefly coming to life in late June and early July, Chicago has fallen upon hard times again, dropping 10 of its last 11 games. The Cubs led most of the way in Saturday’s contest before Cincinnati rallied in the eighth inning for a 4-2 triumph, its 24th victory in 32 games. The Reds’ torrid second half has created a 4 1/2-game lead atop the National League Central, a cushion that has increased this week thanks to three consecutive losses by second-place Pittsburgh. The Cubs are in fifth, 23 games off the pace.
Cincinnati, the lone team in the NL Central with a winning record away from home (31-26), has flourished recently despite the absence of All-Star first baseman Joey Votto, riding a pitching staff that ranks fourth in the majors in ERA and is among the National League leaders in most categories. Closer Aroldis Chapman has not allowed a run since June 24, and has 41 strikeouts against only two walks since July 1. The Cubs have scored fewer runs than any team in baseball, and the pitching hasn’t been much better, particularly as the bullpen has worn down. Reliever James Russell gave up three runs on five hits in an inning Saturday.
TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Ohio (Cincinnati), WGN (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Johnny Cueto (14-6, 2.58 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Brooks Raley (0-1, 15.75)
Cueto, who had a five-game winning streak stopped in his last outing, has been one of the National League’s top hurlers all season but has been a bit less sharp lately, giving up 12 runs and 24 hits in 20 1/3 innings over his last three starts. He is 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 career starts against the Cubs, including a win at Wrigley Field on April 22 when he allowed two runs (one earned), five hits and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings.
Raley’s major league debut, which came April 7 in San Diego, didn’t go particularly well. The 2009 draft pick was tagged for seven runs on eight hits in four innings of a 7-4 loss. With Matt Garza sidelined by an elbow injury, however, Raley will have an opportunity to right the ship. He was 4-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Iowa this season.
1. The Reds are 22-8 in Cueto’s last 30 starts, and they have won the last seven times he has taken the mound on a Sunday.
2. Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano is 10-for-35 (.286) against Cueto with three home runs. The rest of the Cubs are a combined 14-for-47 (.298).
3. Neither team had won consecutive games in the head-to-head series this season until Cincinnati prevailed Saturday.