It's not really the end of the "first half", as the Cubs will finish tonight's action with 12 more games played than an official half-season (93 games, with 69 remaining).
If they do win tonight -- and with their own All-Star starter going against one from the Cardinals, there's a decent enough chance of that -- the Cubs will be 43-50, five games better than they were at the 93-game mark a year ago. That's an improvement, and even if there's a selloff in the next two-plus weeks, I'd like to think that the organizational depth is such now that they won't have an 18-43 record after August 1, as they did a year ago. We won't see the likes of Justin Germano and Jason Berken in the rotation this year.
Presumably, Scott Baker could take a rotation spot if Matt Garza is traded. Baker's line in his first rehab start Sunday afternoon for Kane County:
Scott Baker's rehab start for Cougars is over. 3IP 4R (all in 1st inn) 6H 1BB 2K— Josh Timmers (@Cubsminorswrap) July 14, 2013
Not great numbers, but as Josh also tweeted later, the key is to get out of that first outing healthy, and Baker appears to have done so.
Valbuena 3B, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Navarro C, Bogusevic CF, Sappelt RF, Barney 2B, Wood P
The Cardinals lineup was not available at the time I wrote this preview. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Cardinals lineup.
Today's Starting Pitchers
|2013 - Travis Wood||6-6||21||18||0||0||0||0||117.0||79||37||35||9||35||85||2.69||.97|
|2013 - Adam Wainwright||12-5||20||19||4||2||0||0||140.2||125||39||36||5||14||126||2.30||.99|
Travis Wood has faced the Cardinals twice already this year, and thrown a total of 13⅔ innings, allowing four earned runs, striking out 12. In the first of those games, May 7 at Wrigley Field, Wood gave up just one run, a solo homer to Allen Craig. Essentially, he's pitched against them the same way he's pitched against everyone else -- solid starts with few walks, few hits (13 total) and put his team in a position to win. You can't ask for much more than that.
Adam Wainwright has been very good this year and the Cardinals are 13-6 in games he has started. One of the losses was hung on him by the Cubs, June 18 in St. Louis; the Cubs jumped all over Wainwright for four runs in the first inning, including homers by Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom. Wainwright settled down and wound up throwing seven innings in that game, though. Since June 1 Wainwright has thrown two complete games and posted a 2.08 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in eight starts.
This ought to be a good pitcher's duel. (Usually, when anyone writes that, it doesn't happen. Still, we can hope.
Today's game is on ESPN. As of now, this looks like the Cubs' only Sunday night national-TV date for 2013.
Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. 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.