The Cubs start inter-league play when the Minnesota Twins come into Chicago for a three-game series starting Friday, June 12.
The Cubs are coming home after a 4-4 road trip where five out of those eight games resulted in extra innings.
They took the first game easily 7-1 before giving up the lead late in the game and losing 2-1 in the second game. In the third game, the Cubs trailed by one run all game until Derek Lee hit a ninth-inning opposite field home run to tie it.
The Astros would win on a Blumm single in the 13th.
Not a bad road trip for the Cubs to say the least. They gained some ground in the division, and are now only two-and-a-half back of Milwaukee.
One thing I noticed on the trip was Derek Lee. Lately he has been hitting well and producing runs. Lee will need to keep this up if the Cubs want to stay in contention.
The Twins are coming off a nice series win over Oakland, but they blew the chance to sweep, as Oakland won it in the ninth.
Now lets look at the upcoming series against the Twins.
Game One: Friday June 12th, 1:20 PM CST.
Slowey (8-2) 4.21 ERA vs Wells (0-2) 1.86 ERA
Wells' ERA shines, but his record doesn't, thanks to the Cubs blowing leads and not getting Wells run support. This kid could easily have three to four wins by now.
Wells has really provided a spark plug for the rotation since being called up to the Majors. Besides Sean Marshall, every pitcher has seemed to pitch better since Wells was called up.
Slowey has a nice record, but his ERA is not where you think a eight-game winner should be at. I have not seen enough of him to know how he throws, but eight wins is pretty good at this point of the season.
The Cubs are going to have to get after Slowey early and give Wells a nice lead. Wells has proved he can pitch well, he just needs the run support.
The key to the game will be the Cubs pitching. I expect Wells to pitch solid again, but the bullpen will have to do their job for the Cubs to get the win.
The Twins offense scares me, and they can put up runs in a hurry. Cubs defense will have to be on par, along with pitching.
Game Two: Saturday June 13, 12:05 PM CST
Swarzak (1-2) 5.23 ERA vs Harden (4-2) 4.74 ERA
Rich Harden makes his first start since he went on the DL a few weeks ago. Harden has pitched pretty well this season, but at times he has also struggled.
Harden won't work a lot of innings in this ballgame, being it's his first start back from an injury, and we know Harden is fragile.
Again, this game will lay on the bullpens shoulders. We will see the bullpen around the fifth or sixth inning, so four solid innings will be needed for a Cubs win.
Swarzak had a no-decision his last start, before that one he got ruffed up by Cleveland and got the loss.
The Cubs need to get the offense going, and in Chicago against Swarzak will be the perfect time.
Game Three: Sunday June 14th, 1:20 PM CST
Baker (4-6) 5.59 ERA vs Lilly (7-4) 3.00 ERA
You could make a case that so far Ted Lilly has been the best pitcher for the Cubs all year. He has the most wins on the team, and one of the lowest ERAs.
Lilly will get the start in the final game of the series and hopefully he has his A game with him. In his last three starts, Lilly has got two wins and a no-decision and was throwing the ball real well.
He has also lowered his ERA by .77 points in his past four starts.
Lilly is the type of pitcher that can get at Minnesota's offense and give them fits all game. He's going to have to keep the ball down and make good placement pitches.
Minnesota will be looking to carve up Lilly with their hitting. They will have to be patient and wait to get to Lilly. If they can do that, I can see a big game from them.
Another game for the Cubs to get their offense potentially started. Baker doesn't have great stuff, so the Cubs will need to jump on him early and often.
I'm going to take the Cubs in this series with them winning two games. I think they will win Friday and Sunday's games. They will have a chance to sweep with a Saturday win, but I think the Twins will get to Harden.