Things to watch for, not all Cubs-related, on this final day of the 2013 regular season:
- If the Cardinals win today's game from the Cubs, they will finish with the National League's best record and have home field throughout the N.L. playoffs. If they lose and the Braves win, the two teams would be tied at 96-66 and the Braves would get the home field advantage because they won the season series from St. Louis.
- If the Cleveland Indians win their game, they will be the first wild card and host the American League wild-card game on Wednesday.
- If the Indians lose to the Twins... well, that's where it gets interesting. If that happens and the Rays and Rangers both win, the first three-way tie for playoff position in the history of the major leagues will happen. Here's how they'd break that tie.
- If the Indians win and the Rays and Rangers have the identical result in their games (either both win or both lose), the Rays and Rangers would play a tiebreaker game Monday in Texas; the winner of that game would then head to Cleveland to play the A.L. wild-card game on Wednesday.
- If the Indians lose, the Rangers win, and the Rays lose, Cleveland and Texas would wind up tied at 91-71; in that case, the wild-card game would be in Cleveland (they won the season series from the Rangers).
- If the Indians lose, the Rays win, and the Rangers lose, Cleveland and Tampa Bay would wind up tied at 91-71; in that case, the wild-card game would be hosted by the Rays, who won the season series from the Indians.
Got all that? On to the particulars for the Cubs' final game of 2013.
Castro SS, Watkins 2B, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Sweeney CF, Murphy 3B, Bogusevic LF, Boscan C, Samardzija P
At last! Logan Watkins gets another start.
Carpenter 3B, Jay CF, Beltran RF, Adams 1B, Molina C, Descalso SS, Robinson LF, Wong 2B, Westbrook P
Today's Starting Pitchers
|2013 - Jeff Samardzija
|2013 - Jake Westbrook
Jeff Samardzija has made one start against the Cardinals this year, June 18 in St. Louis, and it was a good one: 8⅓ innings, seven hits, two earned runs, six strikeouts. Shark has thrown well in his last two outings and it would be nice to see him finish the year strong.
Originally, the Cardinals were going to start Joe Kelly in this game; Kelly will be available in relief. Jake Westbrook is starting instead, likely because he's a free agent and probably won't return next year and might not even be on the Cardinals' playoff roster. So it's kind of a "thank you" from Cardinals management to Westbrook, who will probably throw a three-hit shutout. It's also Westbrook's birthday -- he turns 36 today. Westbrook hasn't been all that good this year and against the Cubs he's got a 4.15 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in four starts this year. Perhaps we're not doomed.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
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.