The Cubs have lost eight consecutive series dating back to last year. Since that last series win -- taking two of three from the Reds in Cincinnati Sept. 9-11, 2013 -- the Cubs are 8-19 (4-13 to the end of 2013, 4-6 so far in 2014).
Nevertheless, they have a chance to win a series with a victory today, and on the road, too. Friday night's win marked the first time the Cubs have won the opening game of a series since that Reds series last year.
It won't be easy, not with the pitching matchup below. But hey, you never know.
One more note:
Dale Sveum Rick Renteria says Jose Veras is still his closer:
"It was a shaky outing but he's still our guy," Renteria said of Veras. "His stuff is there. I think he gets a little excited and he starts pulling some pitches and he overthrows pitches and he just has to find his rhythm."
"Shaky?" We haven't seen anything but "awful" from Veras so far this year. For an example of a team removing a closer this early, look no farther than the Oakland Athletics, who dumped Jim Johnson from closing after a few bad outings.
Why should the Cubs be any different?
Lake LF, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Sweeney CF, Castro SS, Barney 2B, Baker C, Villanueva P
Carpenter 3B, Wong 2B, Holliday LF, Adams 1B, Molina C, Craig RF, Jay CF, Descalso SS, Wainwright, P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Villanueva had a very good first start of 2014 after two bad relief appearances. He went just five innings and 71 pitches in that start; it would be nice to think he could be extended farther than that today, because the bullpen has been pretty overtaxed recently. Against the Cardinals last year, Carlos made six appearances (three starts) and allowed 11 earned runs in 22 innings (4.50 ERA, 1.273 WHIP).
Adam Wainwright has made two starts this year, covering 14 innings. He has a 1.29 ERA and 1.000 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in the 14 innings, and he gave up no runs in seven innings to the Reds, a team with a much better offense than the Cubs. Repeat after me: "Clearly, we are doomed."
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.
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.