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Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox Preview, Saturday 5/21, 6:10 CT: Big Z At Fenway

BOSTON -- The sky attempted to turn blue briefly this morning, but the clouds that have surrounded New England and most of the Northeast and Midwest this spring won the battle; though there's only a small chance of rain this evening for the game.

This evening will be the 656th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park; that's a record that the Cubs aspire to emulate. They'll have to do more than just emulate the classic ballpark and marketing strategies before they can. Getting good ballplayers and winning and being a perennial playoff contender, as the Red Sox are, can do that.

The Red Sox, incidentally, had been left for dead after the season's first week after starting 0-6. They've gone 24-14 since then and stand half a game behind the first-place Rays -- who also started 0-6 this season. The AL East could get quite interesting before this year is over; even the Blue Jays, at .500 now (22-22), are only 2.5 games out of first place.

The result of the first game of the Red Sox/Cubs series at Wrigley Field six years ago was similar to last night's; the home team won in a blowout. On June 10, 2005, the Cubs defeated the Red Sox 14-6; the Cubs also won two of three in that series. That result, this weekend, would be nice. The pitching matchups the rest of the weekend favor the Cubs. (At least, that's what I'm trying to convince myself.)

The teams will be wearing throwback uniforms from 1918 tonight; the Cubs' uniform has navy blue pinstripes, a gray/blue/white sock and a cap with no "C" on it; the Red Sox' uni has a completely blank front -- not too conducive to replica jersey sales -- but otherwise has mostly the same colors as the current scheme. You can see the uniforms the teams will be wearing here and here.

Cubs lineup:

Fukudome rf, Barney 2b, Castro ss, Ramirez 3b, Pena 1b, Byrd cf, Soriano dh, DeWitt lf, Hill c

Red Sox lineup:

Ellsbury cf, Pedroia 2b, Gonzalez 1b, Youkilis 3b, Ortiz dh, Drew rf, Lowrie ss, Crawford lf, Varitek c
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. Alfredo Aceves
Alfredo Aceves
Red Sox
4-2 W-L 1-0
4.89 ERA 2.60
39 SO 9
19 BB 6
4 HR 3
vs. Bos -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Carlos Zambrano 4-2 9 9 0 0 0 0 57.0 53 31 31 4 19 39 4.89 1.26

2011 - Alfredo Aceves 1-0 11 0 0 0 0 1 17.1 12 6 5 3 6 9 2.60 1.04

Alfredo Aceves has been a pretty decent relief pitcher for the Yankees (2008-2010) and Red Sox (this year). He has made five major league starts, four in 2008 and one in 2009 for the Yankees, with varying results. The only Cubs he has faced are Marlon Byrd (1-for-2) and Carlos Pena (0-for-3).

Carlos Zambrano, obviously, has never faced the Red Sox. Current Red Sox (most of the AB are accounted for by Mike Cameron, Adrian Gonzalez and J.D. Drew) are 9-for-56 off him (.161).

Today's game is on Fox. It can be seen in the following areas: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin (except areas covered by Duluth market), Kentucky (except areas covered by Huntington WV market), Tennessee (except Chattanooga market), Missouri (except Springfield market), Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado (Denver market only), Wyoming (eastern half), South Dakota, North Dakota (except Fargo/Grand Forks market), Ohio (Cincinnati and Dayton markets), Michigan (Grand Rapids, Lansing and Alpena markets), Maine, Massachusetts (except areas covered by Albany NY market), Rhode Island, Vermont (except areas covered by Albany NY market), and Virginia (Roanoke/Lynchburg market only). Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Red Sox site Over The Monster.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 6 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.