Another contending team wearing red comes to Wrigley Field today as the Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals, who hold the second wild-card spot by 2.5 games over the Milwaukee Brewers. Chris Volstad takes on Chris Carpenter, who makes his 2012 debut for the Cardinals after missing 150 games. The St. Louis notes say Carpenter had “a right shoulder injury requiring neurogenic thoracic outlet surgery on July 19.”
“I’m sure he’s not here unless he’s pretty much back to normal,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. “He might not be 100 percent, but I’m sure he’s 90 percent and got all his pitches or he wouldn’t be here down the stretch for these last 12-13 games. I don’t think you approach him any different.”
The Cubs are 58-92 and on pace for 99 losses. They need to go 5-7 the rest of the way to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1966. They’ve got three against the Cardinals here before going to Colorado for three and Arizona for three before coming home to play the Astros Oct. 1-3.
They did manage a quality start yesterday, by Jason Berken. But let’s remember the Reds rested everybody up to an including Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. The Cubs still lost the game. They’re 41-30 in quality-start games, and their starters have an ERA of 1.84.
It was a quick pregame today with Sveum, who was terse with his answers. Good thing Darwin Barney and his 135-game errorless streak at second base are still here to talk about.
Barney has a hitting line of 267/.314/.370. He had a recent 13-game hitting streak and a string of 55 straight appearances without a strikeout. The OBP had slipped below .300 awhile back, and I asked Sveum what Barney could do to get that OBP higher in the future.
“Do what he’s been doing the last couple of weeks would be just fine,” Sveum said. “I’m sure he’s at about a .400 on-base percentage the last couple weeks. It’s all a process sometimes, like I said early in the season. Everybody wants young guys to have on-base percentage. It doesn’t come until you’ve had your 2,000 at-bats in the major leagues or 4,000 at-bats in professional baseball. Everybody’s a little bit different, but the scale of on-base percentage is not brought up by one-year players or 22-year-old kids. That’s not where it usually happens at.”
For the record is 26, and he’ll turn 27 in November. Coming into today, he has 1,114 major-league at-bats and 2,674 professional at-bats.
From the game notes: Cubs batters have drawn 213 walks in 65 games (3.3 walks per game) after the all-star break. They had 196 walks in 85 games (2.3 walks per game) before the break. The Cubs’ 213 walks since the break are second most in the NL and fourth most in the majors. Atlanta leads the big leagues with 252 walks in that span.
This is the sixth straight start for Luis Valbuena over Josh Vitters at third base. Lineup: