Cubs vs. Angels Preview, Tuesday 7/9, 7:05 CT: You, Again?

USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs are hosting the Angels for a two-game series, after being in Anaheim a month ago for the same type of set. Thanks, MLB schedulers.

This is the first time that the Cubs will face an American League team for two separate series in a season that isn't named "White Sox." The Cubs split a pair with the Angels in Anaheim last month, and overall are 12-6 in interleague play. They've outscored their AL opponents 106-61.

Maybe that's the answer. Move to the other league? (Note: joke! Not serious!)

The Cubs welcome former nemesis Albert Pujols back to Wrigley Field for the first time since he left the Cardinals. Pujols is having the worst year of his career, currently hitting .247/.320/.415 with an OPS+ of 106. (Comparison point: Alfonso Soriano is hitting .263/.289/.459 with an OPS+ of 100. Imagine what Pujols will be like in five years if he keeps up his current progression.) Pujols is a lifetime .298/.397/.602 hitter in 319 at-bats at Wrigley Field, with 26 home runs, second-most of any active player (Adam Dunn has 27).

It'll be interesting to see the reaction to Pujols tonight, and to see how different a player he is.

And speaking of Soriano, he might be amenable to a trade (note: CSN Chicago link plays video without permission):

"I don’t want to be on this team if they don’t want me here," Soriano said after Monday’s 8-2 win over the White Sox. "It’s kind of hard and selfish to think (that way). If they want me to stay here, I’m going to stay here. But if they don’t want me to, the door is open."

Obviously, the Cubs will have to eat most or all of the (approximately) $27 million left on Soriano's deal to trade him.

Cubs lineup:

Borbon CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Valbuena 3B, Navarro C, Schierholtz RF, Barney 2B, Wood P

Welington Castillo, apparently still under the weather.

Angels lineup:

Aybar SS, Trout CF, Pujols 1B, Kendrick 2B, Hamilton LF, Trumbo RF, Callaspo 3B, Iannetta C, Blanton P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton


Angels

vs. LAA

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Travis Wood 5-6 20 17 0 0 0 0 110.1 75 35 33 8 33 80 2.69 .98


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Joe Blanton 2-10 17 17 0 0 0 0 103.1 135 65 59 18 19 88 5.14 1.49

Travis Wood has never faced the Angels. Current members of the team who have faced him -- Chris Iannetta and Albert Pujols -- have both homered off him, but both of those were at least two years ago. Wood's a different and better pitcher than that now. As you know, Wood has been the Cubs' most consistent starter all year, and I don't see any reason he shouldn't keep doing that.

Joe Blanton faced the Cubs twice last year, once with the Phillies, once with the Dodgers, and threw well both times, totalling 13⅓ innings, allowing four earned runs. Current members of the Cubs are 22-for-87 (.253) off him with one home run (Welington Castillo). Blanton has been pretty bad all year in 2013; his ERA has never dropped below 5. He has a career ERA of 3.55 in a small-sample-size two starts at Wrigley.

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 Angels site Halos Heaven.

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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