Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Wednesday 7/9, 6:10 CT

Arismendy Alcantara during 2014 spring training - Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs must win tonight to avoid having their first six-game losing streak of 2014. And, a Cubs prospect makes his big-league debut.

Bear with me here, if you will, because I'm going to talk about something that often drives me nuts -- long nine-inning baseball games.

This might be one of the reasons the Reds annoy us so much. Not only do they have a 57-23 record against the Cubs since 2010, but the games are dragging on forever.

Example: so far this year the Cubs have played 13 nine-inning games lasting 3:20 or longer. Five of those games are against the Reds. Last year, similar numbers: 29 games of 3:20 or longer, five against the Reds. No other team had more than two. Arbitrary line drawn at 3:20 for no particular reason, although I'll note that there have been 364 major-league games of 3:20 or longer so far this year, 26.9 percent of all games played through Tuesday. There would have been a sixth Cubs/Reds game added to this year's list if Monday's game had lasted one minute longer.

What is it about the Reds that drags these games out so long? For 2013, it might have been walks -- the Reds led the National League in walks. But this year, Cincinnati ranks 12th in walks drawn -- even the Cubs, not a good walk-drawing team, have more. A great deal of the difference is Joey Votto's absence from the lineup. He led the major leagues in walks in 2013 with 135. This year he's got 47 walks in 62 games, but has missed quite a bit of time due to various injuries.

Anyway, just something I noticed -- Cubs/Reds games seem to take longer, in general, than Cubs games against just about any other team.

Cubs lineup:

Coghlan LF, Alcantara 2B, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Ruggiano CF, Sweeney RF, Castillo C, Beeler P

It's the major-league debut for Arismendy Alcantara. Much good luck to the 22-year-old in his first big-league game. Also, ICYMI, Chris Rusin was optioned back to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Dallas Beeler on the 25-man roster -- this move was expected.

Reds lineup:

Hamilton CF, Schumaker LF, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Mesoraco C, Pena 1B, Santiago 3B, Cozart SS, Simon P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Dallas Beeler

Dallas Beeler


Cubs

vs. Alfredo Simon

Alfredo Simon


Reds

vs. Cin

--

vs. Cubs

Dallas Beeler will be making his second major-league start. His first one, June 28 against the Nats at Wrigley Field, was a great success; he mixed up his pitches, changed speeds well and got the Nats to beat the ball into the ground. If he can keep that up he can have a successful big-league career. Obviously, he has never faced the Reds nor anyone on their roster.

Alfredo Simon is having a really good year in the Reds rotation, with a 2.78 ERA and 1.055 WHIP (the latter ranks seventh in the National League). He has faced the Cubs three times already this year, allowed just three earned runs in 20 innings and has an 0.95 WHIP against them. Just one Cub has homered off him this year -- Anthony Rizzo, June 23 at Wrigley Field, the only run in a 6-1 loss.

Clearly, we are doomed.

Today's game is on WGN.

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 Reds site Red Reporter. The usual caution is advised.

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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