No Cubs photo from the last game was really worth posting, so have a look at gulls fighting over food in the outfield at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 5-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The team the Cubs will face over the next four days (a "wraparound" series, including Monday) isn't the Phillies team we've been used to seeing over the last five years, all playoff seasons.
They've scored the second-fewest runs in the National League (61 -- OK, so the Cubs aren't too far ahead of that with 66). They're already 5½ games behind the first-place Nationals (and the Nats appear to be a for-real contender).
The Phillies have someone named Freddy Galvis at second base instead of longtime star Chase Utley, who's still injured. Oh, and look! There's our old buddy Juan Pierre in left field. The Cubs won't have to face Cliff Lee (who's on the DL) or Cole Hamels (the only Philly starter who won't go in this series). So maybe this isn't as much of a mismatch as it might appear at first glance.
DeJesus RF, Campana CF, Castro SS, LaHair 1B, Soriano LF, Stewart 3B, Barney 2B, Soto C, Maholm P
Pierre LF, Polanco 3B, Rollins SS, Pence RF, Victorino CF, Wigginton 1B, Ruiz C, Galvis 2B, Halladay P
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2012 - Paul Maholm||1-2||3||3||0||0||0||0||14.0||16||13||13||3||6||9||8.36||1.57|
|2012 - Roy Halladay||3-1||4||4||0||0||0||0||30.0||19||5||5||0||8||19||1.50||.90|
Paul Maholm's ERA looks bad, but consider it was 13.50 before his last start. So it's improving. If he can have another start tonight like his last one, it would drop to 6.30... which is still bad. But improving! Maholm didn't face the Phillies last year; the last time he pitched against them was July 3, 2010 in Pittsburgh. (Don't click on the link! Don't! Don't! ... don't say I didn't warn you.) Anyway, a lot of the Phillies who played in that game either aren't on the team any more or are injured; current Phillies are hitting .304 (41-for-135) against him. Hunter Pence accounts for most of that (.318, 14-for-44, two home runs).
The last time Roy Halladay faced the Cubs, July 18, 2011 at Wrigley Field, he departed after four innings, apparently suffering some trouble due to the hot and humid weather. That caused Jeff Sullivan of Baseball Nation to write this article about the real reason Halladay might have been removed.
That said, Cubs teams have done pretty well against Halladay -- 4-1 against him in five career starts. He's posted a 3.72 ERA and given up four home runs in 29 innings. Why is this?
Cubs teams like to hack away. Halladay throws strikes, lots of them, always pounding the strike zone. When a hacktastic team swings freely against a guy like that, they are more likely to get hits. Weird, but true. Current Cubs are hitting .265 (30-for-113) against Halladay with four home runs.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
Today's first pitch thread will post at 6:05 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 7:05, 8:05 and 8:50 p.m. CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.
Discuss amongst yourselves.