Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Sunday 5/4, 7:05 CT

Brian Kersey

The Cubs go for a three-game sweep! (Doesn't that sound great?)

Here's how rare a Cubs sweep over the Cardinals would be...

The Cubs last swept the Cardinals September 13-14-15, 2010, in St. Louis, part of Mike Quade's "dead cat bounce" that year. But they haven't swept them at Wrigley since 2006 -- when they swept two series against St. Louis: April 7-8-9 and July 27-28-29-30, and the April 9 game was an ESPN Sunday night game, highlighted by Michael Barrett's grand slam. (Too bad the rest of that year wasn't as good.)

But perhaps more importantly, the Cubs haven't swept a series of any kind since July 26-27-28, 2013 at San Francisco, and they haven't swept a three-game series at Wrigley Field since July 13-14-15, 2012, when they swept the Diamondbacks. (They did sweep a two-game set against the White Sox at Wrigley last May 29-30.)

You know, it's good that the Cubs are winning at home, if nothing else, given their horrific 31-50 record at Wrigley in 2013. Good teams tailor themselves to winning in their home park, and starting off 7-8 at home is a good step in the right direction; 8-8 would, of course, be better.

Note from action earlier Sunday: George Kottaras, who appeared on track to be the Cubs' backup catcher this year before being released at the end of spring training, hit two home runs today for the Indians. John Baker, the Cubs' backup, is 2-for-22, both singles, and has an OPS+ of -27 (and is in tonight's starting lineup). FWIW, Kottaras was terrible in Triple-A for Cleveland: 2-for-25 with 11 strikeouts. Go figure.

Oh, well.

Cubs lineup:

Bonifacio CF, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Schierholtz RF, Kalish LF, Baker C, Barney 2B, Hammel P

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 3B, Molina C, Holliday LF, Adams 1B, Craig RF, Peralta SS, Grichuk CF, Ellis 2B, Lynn P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel


Cubs

vs. Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn


Cardinals

vs. StL

--

vs. Cubs

Jasom Hammel is off to a great start, as you know. He has just two career starts vs. the Cardinals, both when he was with the Rockies, and none since 2011. Current Cardinals are a small-sample-size 15-for-34 (.441) against Hammel, with two home runs, both by Jhonny Peralta. The weather tonight is supposed to be chilly again, with the wind blowing in, a pitcher's night. Looks like Hammel might need the help.

Lance Lynn is off to a decent, not great, start, very similar to his previous years as a starter. He did not face the Cubs in the series last month in St. Louis, and overall, current Cubs are hitting .257 (26-for-101) against him, with four home runs (one each from Welington Castillo, Anthony Rizzo, Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena). I expect another low-scoring game tonight.

Today's game is on ESPN. It's likely the Cubs' only Sunday night appearance of the season.

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 Cardinals site Viva el Birdos.

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.

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