Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Preview, Friday 6/22, 8:40 CT

Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs throws to first base after tagging out A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox in a run-down at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

While everyone else is completing their interleague schedules over the next three days (including "rivalry" matchups between the Yankees and Mets, Dodgers and Angels, and Giants and Athletics), the Cubs will be the NL series of the weekend. This will be the last time a MLB schedule will be made this way -- with interleague play concentrated in one or two stretches, with everyone playing interleague except for one NL series. With the move of the Astros to the AL for 2013, interleague play will be year-round, and no one yet knows how this will shake out -- or even how many interleague games will be played.

The Cubs finish 2012 with a 5-10 interleague record. That's the same mark they had last year; the last season in which the Cubs had a winning record against AL teams was in 2007, when they were 8-4.

One more note about today -- it was 10 years ago today, June 22, 2002, that Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died suddenly in his Chicago hotel room, in the morning, just a few hours before a scheduled noon game between the Cubs and Cardinals at Wrigley. It was a strange experience being there; the game didn't start as scheduled at 12:05 and for a few minutes, no one in the stands at Wrigley knew what was going on. Some of us started getting cellphone calls letting us know something had happened, but without specifics.

The Cubs' Joe Girardi then gathered the entire team behind him on the field and made a heartfelt short speech announcing "a tragedy in the Cardinals' family". It was a classy thing to do, and even then showed Girardi's leadership skills.

The game was postponed. (It was made up on August 31, as part of the first day-night doubleheader in Wrigley Field history.) The next day, the Cubs and Cardinals were scheduled for ESPN's Sunday night game. It was played with no PA announcements and no music as a tribute to Kile; his uniform number 57 was placed on the CF message board for the entire game.

Cubs lineup:

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

Diamondbacks lineup:

Bloomquist SS, Hill 2B, Upton RF, Kubel LF, Goldschmidt 1B, Montero C, Young CF, Roberts 3B, Saunders P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
vs. Joe Saunders
Joe Saunders
5-5 W-L 4-5
4.04 ERA 3.44
78 SO 53
28 BB 21
6 HR 9
vs. Ari -- vs. Cubs

2012 - Jeff Samardzija 5-5 15 13 0 0 0 0 78.0 77 37 35 6 28 78 4.04 1.35

2012 - Joe Saunders 4-5 13 13 1 1 0 0 81.0 91 36 31 9 21 53 3.44 1.38

Jeff Samardzija's career vs. Arizona consists of five relief appearances covering 4⅔ innings and 22 batters. The only current D'back who has a hit off him is Justin Upton (a double). It's such a small sample size (22 PA) that it's really impossible to make any judgments. I will say that Shark has done well with command this season so far, with just 28 walks in 78 innings, along with 78 K's and only six home runs allowed. That's a good sign for his future.

Joe Saunders' last start against the Cubs was April 4, 2011 at Wrigley Field, where he threw six solid innings, but the Cubs won the game anyway. Look at that boxscore -- just a little over a year ago, and nine Cubs who played in that game are no longer with the team. Current Cubs are 16-for-62 (.258) against Saunders with two home runs (Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto).

Saunders looks sad in that photo. Let's keep him that way.

Today's game is on WGN.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Diamondbacks site AZ Snakepit.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 8:40 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 9:40, 10:40 and 11:25 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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