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Cubs' Second Half Begins: Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Sunday 7/4, 1:20 CT

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A rare sight: Cubs scoring runs.
A rare sight: Cubs scoring runs.

IMPORTANT SITE NOTE: there have been some issues with posts scheduled at specific times (as this one was) appearing on the front page. If for any reason the First Pitch Thread does not appear on the front page at 1:15 pm CDT, you can find it in the "RECENT STORIES IN GAME THREADS" box on the right sidebar.

Today, the second half begins. Yes, I am aware that the All-Star break has not yet happened, but today is the Cubs 82nd game -- thus the second half of the schedule starts today. It could hardly be worse than the first. Cubs starting pitching now is tied for the major league lead (with the Cardinals and Rays) with 52 quality starts. The pitching staff is fifth in the NL in fewest runs allowed, fifth in WHIP, fourth in ERA+.

Normally, that'd be enough to get you into contention. But the offense has been pretty close to putrid -- 12th in BA, 13th in OBP, 12th in SLG, 13th in OPS, 14th in OPS+ and 14th in runs scored. The Cubs have also allowed 54 unearned runs, by far the most in the major leagues.

In 81 games, they have scored one or no runs 20 times -- and actually have a 2-18 record in those games due to two 1-0 wins. They have scored two or fewer runs 34 times (3-31 record; two 1-0 wins, one 2-0 win).

It's really that simple. If these guys start to hit, they will win games, because they have good pitching. Today would be a good time to begin.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
Cubs
vs. Mike Leake
Mike Leake
Reds
3-6 W-L 5-1
3.12 ERA 3.30
61 SO 62
22 BB 38
11 HR 9
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ted Lilly 3-6 13 13 0 0 0 0 86.2 70 33 30 11 22 61 3.12 1.06


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Mike Leake 5-1 15 15 0 0 0 0 95.1 97 39 35 9 38 62 3.30 1.42

Mike Leake made his major league debut against the Cubs on April 11 and got a no-decision in a Reds win. Then he started again vs. the Cubs on May 9 and got the win. He has only one loss in 15 starts, though the Reds are 9-6 in those games. He has gone at least six innings in all but one of his outings and has been pretty darn good considering he went right from ASU to the major leagues. Tyler Colvin is the only Cub to homer off him.

Ted Lilly has not started against the Reds this year and is 2-6, 4.06 in 11 career starts against them. He does have a 1.08 career WHIP vs. the Reds and current Reds are hitting .261 (35-for-134) against them. Joey Votto is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with two HR off Ted. Votto has hit 72 career HR, 15 off Cubs pitching.

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Ohio. 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.

Today'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.