Cubs vs. Athletics Preview, Thursday 7/4, 3:05 CT: Travel Day

USA TODAY Sports

In which I explain why the Cubs should be allowed to play Friday night home games on certain occasions.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Usually, when I go to a road series, I attend all the games. I can't do that for this interleague series against the Oakland Athletics, and here's why.

I'm planning to be at Wrigley Field for Friday's game against the Pirates. If I were to stay for this afternoon's contest in Oakland, it would be pretty much impossible to see that game and fly back to Chicago today -- unless I wanted to take a redeye flight, which I don't. The other alternative would be to get on a 6 a.m. flight Friday and then go straight to Wrigley; that idea isn't too appealing, either.

Thus, I'm opting to take an afternoon flight home today and skip the game in Oakland. It's not that much easier for the Cubs to travel more than 2,000 miles after Thursday's game and then play an afternoon contest Friday. Let's say today's game runs about the same length as Thursday's (2:55). That would have it end around 4 p.m. local time -- 6 p.m. Chicago time. It takes teams at least two hours, sometimes a bit more, to get from the last pitch of a game to the airport ready for wheels up and takeoff, so in the best case scenario, the Cubs' flight leaves at 6 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. in Chicago; a four-hour flight has them landing at O'Hare at midnight, likely home around 1 a.m.

And that's the best case -- what if the game runs longer (like the 3:18 Tuesday game)? Or goes into extra innings?

Having Friday's game start at 3:05 helps, though you know how I feel about 3:05 starts. This is a situation where the Cubs should be allowed to play a Friday night home game. These situations come up two, maybe three times a year (Friday home game directly after a Thursday road game). No one's mentioned this possibility in the negotiations with the city regarding changes to Wrigley; in my view, they should.

Happy Fourth! It'd be nice to see the Cubs celebrate with their fourth straight series win. The recap of this game will be delayed a bit until I can get home from Midway Airport myself; my flight's scheduled to land about 7:15 p.m. CT.

Cubs lineup:

Valbuena 3B, Castro SS, Schierholtz RF, Soriano LF, Rizzo 1B, Navarro DH, Bogusevic CF, Barney 2B, Castillo C

Athletics lineup:

Crisp CF, Lowrie 2B, Donaldson 3B, Cespedes LF, Freiman 1B, Young RF, Norris C, Smith DH, Rosales SS

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Dan Straily

Dan Straily


Athletics

vs. Oak

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Travis Wood 5-6 19 16 0 0 0 0 104.1 72 35 33 8 32 75 2.85 1.00


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Dan Straily 4-2 12 12 0 0 0 0 66.2 61 38 37 6 20 53 5.00 1.22

Travis Wood has never faced the A's, and current members of their team are a small-sample-size 4-for-22 against him. Wood has been one of the better pitchers in the National League this year, and been pretty consistent all year (15 of 16 quality starts). In the pitcher's park that is the Coliseum, I'd think he could continue that pattern. Note: the reason the stat line above has him in 19 games with 16 starts is that he's appeared in three games as a pinch-runner.

Jarrod Parker was supposed to start this game, but was held back due to a tight hamstring. Instead, Dan Straily has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to start. Straily did pretty well in seven starts for the A's in 2012, but struggled this year (5.00 ERA) before being sent down. He has never faced the Cubs nor anyone on the current roster.

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 Athletics site Athletics Nation.

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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