Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals Preview, Saturday 4/7, 12:05 CT

Joe Mather of the Chicago Cubs is tagged out at the plate by Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals during the opening day game at Wrigley Field on April 5, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Nationals defeated the Cubs 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Did you all enjoy the off day?

With all the angst surrounding the various mistakes that led to Thursday's loss, I decided not to write anything at all here yesterday. I'm hoping that by now, you'll all have calmed down from the conclusions some of you drew after Game No. 1 -- those being that this season would be an utter disaster because of a couple of mistakes made at the worst possible time on Thursday.

The season gets into full swing today as the Cubs will play nine days in a row before their next off-day on the 16th, and it doesn't get any easier after the Nats leave town. They'll be followed by four games against the Brewers (although they looked pretty awful in their own Opening Day -- ask a Brewers fan how they feel about Yovani Gallardo right now) and three at St. Louis against the Cardinals.

The only real news this morning is that Bryan LaHair is supposed to be available for pinch-hitting in today's game, and presumably still on target to start on Sunday.

It's supposed to be a bit warmer this afternoon, and there won't be that 20-mile-per-hour wind blowing straight in. In fact, if you believe this forecast, the wind might even be blowing out this afternoon. Expect a bit more offense from both teams.

Cubs lineup:

Johnson RF, Mather 3B, Castro SS, Soriano LF, Baker 1B, Soto C, Byrd CF, Barney 2B, Garza P

Interesting. Quite a few changes vs. the LHP today. (And I might have put Baker at 3B and Mather at 1B, given what happened Thursday.)

Nationals lineup:

Desmond ss, Espinosa 2b, Zimmerman 3b, LaRoche 1b, Werth rf, DeRosa lf, Bernadina cf, Ramos c, Gonzalez p

And unlike Dale Sveum, Davey Johnson is sticking with his same starting eight from Opening Day.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Matt Garza
Matt Garza
Cubs
vs. Gio Gonzalez
Gio Gonzalez
Nationals
10-10 W-L 16-12
3.32 ERA 3.12
197 SO 197
63 BB 91
14 HR 17
vs. Wash -- vs. Cubs


Stats are 2011 final season statistics

Matt Garza made two starts against the Nats last year. The one in Washington, on July 7, was one of Garza's worst of the season; he made a comical throwing error and didn't get out of the third inning. But the Cubs came back from an 8-0 deficit and won the game. He was better on August 9 at Wrigley Field, giving up three runs in six innings, but the Cubs lost that one. Go figure. Current Nats are hitting .340 (17-for-50) against Garza.

Gio Gonzalez has made one career start against the Cubs, as a member of the A's, on June 16, 2010 at Wrigley Field. He got hit pretty hard that day; both Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano had two RBI. Apart from that, David DeJesus was his teammate last year in Oakland, so maybe DeJesus can give the Cubs some tips about Gio.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and MASN. 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 Nationals site Federal Baseball.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 12:05 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 1:05, 2:05 and 2:50 p.m. CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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