The Cubs have done a nice job the last couple of days of putting the Reds farther out of the N.L. Central lead. The Reds stand three games out of first place, although as of now they are still in one of the wild-card spots.
Cincinnati is six games ahead of the Nationals (five in the loss column). The Nats are hot (four straight wins). The Reds are not. If the Cubs win today and the Nats also win, this could get real interesting for the Reds.
Meanwhile, the American League wild-card race is getting even more interesting. There are five teams within three games of the second wild-card spot (the Rangers are 2½ games ahead for the first). If the Red Sox, Royals and Orioles win their games today, those five teams would be within two games. Several of them play each other (Rays/Orioles, Yankees/Orioles, Indians/Royals) the rest of the way.
A five-way tie would be just delicious. Even a three-way tie would be the first such tie for a postseason spot in major-league history.
It'd be fun. I'm rooting for a multi-team tie.
Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Bogusevic LF, Lake CF, Castillo C, Barney 2B, Samardzija P
Choo CF, Phillips 2B, Votto 1B, Bruce RF, Frazier 3B, Paul LF, Cozart SS, Mesoraco C, Leake P
Today's Starting Pitchers
|2013 - Jeff Samardzija||8-11||29||29||2||1||0||0||189.0||184||96||90||21||69||190||4.29||1.34|
|2013 - Mike Leake||12-6||28||28||0||0||0||0||177.0||176||74||68||20||42||108||3.46||1.23|
Jeff Samardzija has faced the Reds three times this year. His numbers reflect the Cubs' inability to win at home, and their better record on the road. At Wrigley, Shark has thrown 12 innings vs. the Reds, allowing nine earned runs. But April 24 in Cincinnati, he threw six innings and allowed just one run -- a solo home run by Todd Frazier. He struck out eight that day. A performance like that could be a game winner today. Shark is also 10 strikeouts short of 200 for the year.
Mike Leake has faced the Cubs twice this year, throwing 13⅔ total innings and allowing three earned runs. The Reds won both those games. Clearly, we are doomed -- except Leake has a 6.44 ERA over his last five starts. Maybe this is the time to get back at him.
Today's game is on WGN.
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.