Unfortunately, that left me little time nor material to put here. So, what you get in this game preview is the lineups, with a few comments, and the pitching matchups.
Sorry. I'll try to do better tomorrow. Thanks to the Cubs and Pirates, incidentally, for both tweeting out the lineups more than four hours before game time. Wish they'd do that every day.
Bonifacio CF, Lake LF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Ruggiano RF, Olt 3B, Barney 2B, Whiteside C, Wood P
Mike Olt is hitting poorly. However, he does have an .885 OPS against lefthanders (in a small-sample-size 44 plate appearances). Thus, his start against the lefty Francisco Liriano. Maybe it'll work.
Harrison 3B, Polanco RF, McCutchen CF, Sanchez 1B, Martin C, Marte LF, Mercer SS, Barmes 2B, Liriano P
As you know by now, Gregory Polanco makes his major-league debut against the Cubs tonight, batting second. This list, I found quite interesting:
That's right, David Ortiz -- for the Twins, in an interleague game at Wrigley Field. He pinch-hit for the Twins' pitcher in the seventh inning and flied to left. I was at that game, and also at the Piazza game, in which he went 3-for-3.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Travis Wood has made 12 starts this year. Half of them have been decent-to-good, the other half pretty bad. End result: worst year of his career (so far). He did have a good outing against the Pirates April 10 at Wrigley Field, giving up just one run in six innings. (The bullpen blew that game.)
Francisco Liriano threw six shutout innings against the Cubs Opening Day, March 31 in Pittsburgh. Since then, he has not had a good year -- 4.97 ERA in 12 starts since that one. In his last outing, against the Padres, he gave up only one hit in five innings -- but issued six walks, which helped result in a San Diego win. So if the Cubs can be patient hitters tonight... maybe we won't be 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.