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A Strange Beginning To 2010: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks Preview, Thursday 4/29, 1:20 CT

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Check out some numbers from the Cubs' first 22 games:

Consider that they're 5-1 against the Brewers this year, hitting .345 while averaging 7.8 runs a game thanks to 13 homers and 47 runs in six games.

In 16 games against the Braves, Reds, Astros, Mets and Nationals: .234 with 3.1 per game, 10 homers, 49 runs and a 5-11 record.

Short of asking all the other teams to wear Brewers uniforms when they're playing them, what's the answer to all the runners left on base, and failure to win one-run games (3-5 record so far)? Some of the answer can be found in the bullpen failures of earlier this season, but the bullpen failures didn't lead to the two losses to the Nationals -- it was simple lack of run scoring. And that's in a season when the Cubs have outscored their opponents 96-89 in the 22 games to date.

What's the answer? How about getting the two veteran hitters (Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez) on the team, who are hitting a combined .178/.277/.331, to begin hitting like we know they can? Weirdly, despite the bad slash line above, D-Lee and A-Ram have combined for seven HR and 23 RBI in a total of 188 plate appearances. Today, when it will be in the 70's with the wind blowing out at 20+ MPH, would be a good time to start.

Quick question: who is the only Cub to have played in all 22 games so far? Answer after the jump (and the pitcher matchup).

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
Cubs
vs. Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy
Diamondbacks
1-0 W-L 0-1
0.00 ERA 4.43
4 SO 21
2 BB 7
0 HR 6
vs. Ari -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ted Lilly 1-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.0 3 0 0 0 2 4 0.00 .83


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ian Kennedy 0-1 4 4 0 0 0 0 22.1 18 11 11 6 7 21 4.43 1.12

Ian Kennedy came to the Diamondbacks in the three-way deal that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and a passel of young players to Arizona and Detroit. He has given up a lot of home runs this year -- six in 22.1 innings. He pitched well in his last start, but also gave up a pair of solo HR for the only two runs he allowed, and the D'backs lost 3-2 to the Phillies (he got a no-decision). He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster.

TRL III had a successful season debut and came back right on schedule from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Lifetime vs. Arizona he is 2-3, 3.97 in seven appearances (five starts); two current D'backs (Adam LaRoche and Chris Young) have hit him for over a .400 pace in their careers.

Quick question answer: Kosuke Fukudome is the only Cub to appear in every game thus far. However, judicious platooning has limited him to 71 plate appearances, and maybe has helped him to a very good .333/.429/.561 start.

Today's game is on WGN, and also on the D'backs cable channel, FSN Arizona. 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 Diamondbacks site AZ Snakepit.

This afternoon's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 2:15, 3:15 and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.