Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Preview, Friday 9/28, 8:40 CT

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Cubs begin their final road series of 2012; they've won just three road series all year, just one against a team with a winning record. These facts are not likely to change this weekend.

The Cubs are 3-3 against the Diamondbacks this season. The teams have exchanged sweeps, each sweeping the series in its home park.

I don't hold out much, or even any, hope that the Cubs can win a single game in this series. They got crushed the last time they visited Chase Field, losing the three games by a combined score of 21-7. The Cubs are 2-8 in Phoenix since 2010 and haven't won a game there since April 30, 2011.

If the Cubs lose tonight, they will set a franchise record for most road losses in a season -- the current record is 56, set in 1956, when under the 154-game schedule they went 21-56 on the road. This is different from the record broken yesterday; that was the worst road record in the era of the 162-game schedule. The 1997 Cubs were 26-55 on the road; the 2012 Cubs are 22-56 with three games left. A 22-59 road record would be worse than the 21-56 mark by a percentage point (.272 to .273).

About all we have left to root for is Darwin Barney, who would break the MLB single-season record for consecutive errorless games by a second baseman (currently co-held with Placido Polanco) if he goes error-free tonight. That would be 142 straight; if he gets through the end of the season that'd be 147. The multi-season record, also held by Polanco, is 186; thus, Barney could break the record if he can go error-free through Game 40 of the 2013 season. Barring rainouts or schedule adjustments, that game will be played May 14, 2013 at Wrigley Field against the Rockies.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Sappelt RF, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Barney 2B, Wood P

Hey, look! Sappy Sappelt batting second! He's everywhere!

Diamondbacks lineup:

Eaton CF, Hill 2B, Upton RF, Goldschmidt 1B, Ransom 3B, Nieves C, Pollock LF, McDonald SS, Kennedy P

Cody Ransom's transaction log from the last nine months:

December 4, 2011: Signed as a Free Agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
May 23, 2012: Selected off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
August 31, 2012: Selected off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks from the Milwaukee Brewers.

He's played seven games against the Cubs this year (all with Milwaukee) and hit .389/.450/.667 -- 7-for-18 with two doubles, two walks, a HR and three RBI. I just know this is the guy who's going to rake Cubs pitching all weekend.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Travis Wood
Travis Wood
Cubs
vs. Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy
Diamondbacks
6-12 W-L 14-11
4.23 ERA 4.14
113 SO 174
46 BB 49
23 HR 27
vs. Ari -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Travis Wood 6-12 26 24 0 0 0 0 144.2 125 74 68 23 46 113 4.23 1.18


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Ian Kennedy 14-11 31 31 1 0 0 0 195.2 206 96 90 27 49 174 4.14 1.30

Travis Wood last faced the Diamondbacks April 8, 2011 while he was still a member of the Reds. It did not go well, though in fairness, there's been quite a bit of turnover on the D'backs roster since then. Current D'backs are a small-sample-size 11-for-40 against Wood with no home runs. Wood has allowed a fairly large number of HR this year -- 23 -- but none so far this month in five starts covering 30 innings, during which he has also posted a 2.40 ERA.

Ian Kennedy hasn't had nearly the season he had in 2011, when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. This year -- ignoring the worse W-L record -- he's still been markedly down, with an ERA that hasn't been below 4.00 since May. He's made two starts against the Cubs this year and been hit hard in both of them -- a 10.61 ERA in 9⅓ total innings; Alfonso Soriano hit two homers off him July 13 at Wrigley Field. Perhaps -- just perhaps -- doom is not in our future this evening.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

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 Diamondbacks site AZ Snakepit.

Based on some feedback from all of you, I'm going to adjust the way I'm doing game threads -- hopefully, this method will work, starting tonight and for the rest of this season.

You'll see the game preview -- like this one -- as usual, two hours before game time (this one's up a little earlier due to the somewhat-late start, the last late start of the year).

Then, the other discussion threads will post on time schedules as they always have, first pitch thread at game time, overflows at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time. I will create a StoryStream™ for each game where you can find all the discussion threads. For today's game go to this GameStream (as I'm calling them); you'll find the First Pitch Thread there at 8:40 p.m. CDT and the others will post in that stream at 9:40, 10:40 and 11:25 p.m. CDT.

Once the game is over and I write a recap, it will post as a separate story on the front page; I'll have the preview and recap up there as individual stories, but they will also reside in the stream. Hope that makes more sense and makes things easier to find. The game threads can all also be found in the section titled Chicago Cubs Game Threads, which you can find at that link or in the drop-down menu under "Sections" in the middle of the site.

Let me know if this works, or if you have other suggestions.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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