Cubs vs. Diamondbacks Preview, Thursday 7/25, 8:40 CT: A Rare Opportunity

USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs have a chance to do something tonight they've done only once in the last decade.

In August 2003, the Cubs, on their way to the N.L. Central title, came into Chase Field Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix and won two of three from the Diamondbacks.

Since then, the Cubs have won just one series in the house of horrors that is Bank One Ballpark Chase Field, an inexplicable sweep in 2010. Overall, they are 13-20 there since 2004. They have a chance to win the series with a victory tonight; if they do so, they will also go to a 4-3 record on this road trip and will have won more games on the road (24, with 28 defeats) than they did all last year (23-58). A win would also give the Cubs the season series over the D'backs, 4-3.

This team is getting better. Baby steps.

According to ESPN.com's Cubs schedule page, Jake Arrieta is listed as one of the starting pitchers for the upcoming split doubleheader next Tuesday. The Cubs can add a player that day without having to send someone down (the new CBA permits that). H/T to Rob Willer for the info, which has yet to be confirmed by the Cubs.

Also, first game of this series game time: 3:07. Second game: 3:30. Third game: 4:17. Enough already. Faster, please.

Cubs lineup:

Lake CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Ransom 3B, Gillespie RF, Barney 2B, Castillo C, Villanueva P

Junior Lake back in the leadoff spot and back in center field because of the D'backs lefthander on the mound tonight.

Diamondbacks lineup:

Eaton CF, Hill 2B, Goldschmidt 1B, Kubel LF, Prado 3B, Parra RF, Nieves C, Pennington SS, Miley P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Carlos Villanueva

Carlos Villanueva


Cubs

vs. Wade Miley

Wade Miley


Diamondbacks

vs. Ari

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Carlos Villanueva 2-6 27 11 0 0 0 1 84.1 80 39 39 9 26 61 4.16 1.26


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Wade Miley 6-8 20 20 0 0 0 0 120.2 127 61 54 16 39 89 4.03 1.38

When the Cubs faced the D'backs at Wrigley Field in June, that was when Carlos Villanueva was in the bullpen. He made two relief appearances in that series, throwing 1⅓ innings. What's more interesting is that Villanueva appears to be, right now, almost exactly the pitcher he was a year ago.

2012
: ERA 4.16, WHIP 1.269, H/9 8.1, BB/9 3.3, K/9 8.8, BB/K 2.65
2013: ERA 4.16, WHIP 1.257, H/9 8.5, BB/9 2.8, K/9 6.5, BB/K 2.35

A few less walks, a few less strikeouts, otherwise you can't get much more consistent.

Wade Miley had a really good 2012, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. This year? Not so much. The Cubs scored seven runs off him May 31 at Wrigley Field. Three Cubs hit home runs that day, and two of the men who did that (Cody Ransom and Alfonso Soriano) are still on the team. At least Soriano is still on the team for now.

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 Diamondbacks site AZ Snakepit.

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, and for this late-night series in Arizona, two and a half hours.

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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