Cubs vs. Nationals Preview, Friday 5/10, 6:05 CT: It's Gotta Be Better Than Last Year

USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs begin a road trip today. It will be over on Sunday. Thanks, MLB schedulers.

The last time the Cubs played in Washington, they got swept in a four-game series, were outscored 31-9, and got into a bench-clearing incident that, as I recall, had something to do with Steve Clevenger, who is currently on the disabled list.

In fact, the Cubs beat the Nats just once in 2012 in seven tries, and even in that game, there was nearly a blown ninth-inning lead (that one was due to Jeff Samardzija giving up a home run; Carlos Marmol actually came in and recorded the save, but not before issuing a walk, putting the tying run on base).

Enough of that. The Nats are still a very good team, but I think this Cubs starting pitching staff can at least make these games competitive (in that September 2012 sweep, the Cubs' starters were Samardzija, Chris Rusin, Chris Volstad and Justin Germano; the only close game of the four was the one Shark started).

For more on the pitching matchups for this series, check out this Harry Pavlidis feature from the Washington Post.

And in the "It Could Always Be Worse" department, Ramon Ortiz, who was awful for the Cubs two years ago and who spent the entire 2012 season in Triple-A and who is 40 years old, is starting tonight's game for the Blue Jays, a team that was supposed to contend for a division title this year.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Ransom 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Hairston RF, Castillo C, Sweeney CF, Barney 2B, Samardzija P

Ryan Sweeney, who hit LHP quite well at Iowa, gets his chance to show he can hit them at the big-league level. And, it's Starlin Castro's first day hitting leadoff this year.

Nationals lineup:

Span CF, Bernadina RF, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Moore LF, Suzuki C, Detwiler P

No word on why Bryce Harper isn't starting.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija


Cubs

vs. Ross Detwiler

Ross Detwiler


Nationals

vs. Was

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Jeff Samardzija 1-4 7 7 0 0 0 0 43.2 34 17 15 4 17 52 3.09 1.17


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Ross Detwiler 1-3 6 6 0 0 0 0 36.0 42 12 10 3 8 21 2.50 1.39

Jeff Samardzija's last start in 2012 before he was shut down was September 3, 2012 in Washington. He threw seven innings, allowed seven hits and one run, and lost. I'd settle for him throwing the seven innings tonight -- he's done that just twice in his seven starts so far this year. Current Nats are hitting .239 against him (17-for-71).

Ross Detwiler threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs in that September 3, 2012 game in Washington. He's off to a good start this year, though has allowed more hits (42) than innings (36). Current Cubs are hitting .264 (14-for-53) against him. So maybe there's a chance.

Today's game is on WGN.

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.

Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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