Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox Preview, Sunday 5/22, 7:05 CT: Winning Streaks And Knuckleballs

Hey, look, a happy Cub! Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs scores on a hits a by teammate Reed Johnson in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox on May 21, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BOSTON -- Much has been made of the fact that, through 44 games of the 2011 season, the Cubs have yet to win more than two games in a row.

The last time a Cubs team went through an entire season without a three-game (or longer) winning streak was... never. Three games was the longest winning streak in 1877, 1949 and 1951, and even those bad teams were able to win three in a row multiple times (in 1949, five times; in 1951, six). Even the horrid 1962, 1980, 1981 and 2006 teams had four-game winning streaks; the 96-loss 1974 team had a six-game winning streak, and so did last year's mediocre 87-loss team.

So, the Cubs are almost certain to win three (or more) in a row sometime this season. Tonight would be a good time to post the seventh two-game streak of the year, as a prelude to, you know, actually winning three in a row.

And just for a change, it's cloudy and cool in Boston tonight. And that's important in regard to tonight's Red Sox starter, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Shawn Domagal-Goldman wrote this in an article about Wrigley Field winds for this year's Cubs Maple Street Press Annual:

A good example of a knuckleball’s effectiveness, or lack thereof, in the wind is the misfortune of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who the Texas Rangers sent to the mound with a 15 mile per hour wind blowing in from left field. Dickey tied a MLB record by surrendering 6 home runs into the wind that day. What most don’t know is that he was done in by physics. When the wind blows in, knuckleballs don’t break, and then you might as well start your batting practice pitcher.

Another game pitched by Dickey in winds like that took place at Wrigley Field last September 3. The Cubs hit him pretty hard that day, including home runs by Blake DeWitt and Alfonso Soriano. The wind should be kicking up pretty good at Fenway tonight; that may be a good sign for Cubs hitters and a bad one for Wakefield.

Cubs lineup:

RF Fukudome, 2B Barney, SS Castro, 3B Ramirez, 1B Pena, LF Baker, DH Soriano, C Castillo, CF Johnson

Red Sox lineup:

Ellsbury CF, Pedroia 2B, Gonzalez 1B, Youkilis 3B, Ortiz DH, Lowrie SS, Cameron RF, Crawford LF, Saltalamacchia C
Today's Starting Pitchers
James Russell
James Russell
Cubs
vs. Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield
Red Sox
1-4 W-L 0-1
6.26 ERA 5.40
13 SO 11
6 BB 8
6 HR 4
vs. Bos -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - James Russell 1-4 13 4 0 0 0 1 23.0 30 18 16 6 6 13 6.26 1.57


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tim Wakefield 0-1 11 2 0 0 0 0 23.1 24 17 14 4 8 11 5.40 1.37

James Russell has faced the Red Sox before. You probably remember it -- two days ago he threw 39 pitches in relief against them. Actually, there were pretty good results: three scoreless innings, Russell's best outing of the year to date. The only Red Sox who got hits off him were Kevin Youkilis (double) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (single). I'm at a loss to understand why you'd send a guy out there to start two days after an outing like this. This isn't a spring training split-squad game.

Tim Wakefield has faced many Cubs before -- Alfonso Soriano (11-for-36, .306, two doubles, four HR), Carlos Pena (8-for-37) and Reed Johnson (2-for-18) the most. But I thought it would be most amusing to show you the boxscore from the last time Wakefield pitched against the Cubs, June 12, 2005 at Wrigley Field. (As noted, amusement value only. And check out the Red Sox lineup from that day, too.)

Today's game is on ESPN. Most of today's games will be over by the time you see this, here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Red Sox site Over The Monster.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 6 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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