Chicago Cubs vs. Florida Marlins Preview, Thursday 7/14, 7:05 CT: The Second Half Begins

Write your own caption. (And no, that's not Tony Campana at the left of the photo.) (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

This is the last visit that the Florida Marlins will ever make to Wrigley Field.

You're scratching your head, wondering what I mean by that. Here's the deal -- when they move into their new stadium next year on the site of the former Orange Bowl in Miami, part of the agreement that got the stadium built is that they change their name to "Miami Marlins". Which sounds a lot better, if nothing else. So next season, the "Miami Marlins" will come to Chicago to play the Cubs.

This year, the Marlins have had a bizarre season in which they were 29-19 and just a game out of first place on May 26, then had a 3-21 collapse which resulted in the firing of manager Edwin Rodriguez.

Since Jack McKeon took over, the Marlins have righted their ship to some extent, going 11-8. They're far out of playoff contention, but look like a better team. The Cubs swept a two-game series from them in Miami in May -- and that was before their collapse -- so perhaps the Cubs can get the second half off to a good start in this four-game series.

In addition to that, keep a close eye on attendance this weekend, particularly Saturday, which was designated a "marquee" game for all price levels. It could be well short of a sellout at those prices.

The Cubs are 6-4 over the last 10 years in the first game after the break. Three of the losses came in winning seasons (2001, 2003, 2008) and one in a 96-loss year (2006). Like a lot of things connected with this team, this makes little sense and has little or no predictive value.

Cubs lineup:

Fukudome rf, Castro ss, Ramirez 3b, Pena 1b, Byrd cf, Soriano lf, Soto c, Barney 2b, Garza p

Marlins lineup:

Bonifacio 3b, Infante 2b, G. Sanchez 1b, Ramirez ss, Morrison lf, Stanton rf, Cameron cf, Buck c, A. Sanchez p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Matt Garza
Matt Garza
Cubs
vs. Anibal Sanchez
Anibal Sanchez
Marlins
4-7 W-L 6-2
4.26 ERA 3.58
99 SO 117
33 BB 36
7 HR 11
vs. Fla -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Matt Garza 4-7 16 16 1 0 0 0 95.0 94 54 45 7 33 99 4.26 1.34


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Anibal Sanchez 6-2 18 18 2 1 0 0 113.0 103 47 45 11 36 117 3.58 1.23

Matt Garza used to start quite a bit against the Marlins, when he was a member of the Rays. Last year he made two starts against them and got hit pretty hard -- to the tune of a 14.14 ERA -- even though he won one of the starts. In four career starts vs. Florida he has a 5.09 ERA. Current Marlins are hitting .273 (12-for-44) against him with three HR.

Anibal Sanchez is having another solid, and more importantly for him, healthy season. His last start against the Cubs was on September 18, 2010 in Miami, where the Cubs defeated him and scored four runs off him in five innings, drawing five walks. This year's Cubs team doesn't seem capable of drawing five walks in a week, much less in five innings. Current Cubs are hitting .295 (13-for-44) against him with three home runs (two by Alfonso Soriano, two by Carlos Pena).

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Florida. 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 Marlins site Fish Stripes. They seem a little lonely over there.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 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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