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Cubs vs. Phillies Preview, Friday 4/4, 1:20 CT: Home Opener!

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Baseball returns to Wrigley Field this afternoon!

Write your own caption.
Write your own caption.
Justin K. Aller

Wrigley Field, as you surely know, has been a special place for me for more than five decades.

Yikes. That means I've been going to games there for more than half of Wrigley's existence (since 1963). That's a long time! Today's game will be the 7,717th Cubs game in the history of the ballpark at Clark & Addison (add 153 to that for the total number of major-league games played there; that's the number the Federal League ChiFeds, or Chicago Whales, played there, so 7,870 in all). This will be my 2,340th game at Wrigley.

Thus I have attended about 30 percent of all games ever played at Wrigley Field, and since my first game July 6, 1963, I've seen 58 percent of the 4,037 Wrigley games played from that date through today.

That's a lot of baseball, but it still feels great to walk into the brick-and-ivy-clad baseball park, even when it's cold, windy and wet, as it will be this afternoon. I didn't experience the winter you did here in Chicago (and am thankful for that!), but seeing baseball back on the North Side of Chicago means that summer breezes and sunshine can't be too far away. (Right? Right??)

Baseball, the Cubs and Wrigley Field have made me lifelong friends. For that, I am grateful.

A few wins would be nice, too. Go Cubs.

Cubs lineup:

Bonifacio CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Sweeney LF, Barney 2B, Wood P

Phillies lineup:

Revere CF, Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Byrd RF, Howard 1B, Ruiz C, Brown LF, Asche 3B, Hernandez P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Roberto Hernandez

Roberto Hernandez


Phillies

vs. Phi

--

vs. Cubs

Travis Wood had the best year of his career in 2013, making his first All-Star team, and was consistent from day 1 until season's end. Now how many recent Cubs pitchers have done that? The last time he faced the Phillies was August 7, 2013 in Philadelphia, a very good outing, and the Cubs won the game. We'll take that today, thankyouverymuch.

Roberto Hernandez is the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona. He had an okay year, nothing special, for last year's Rays after several years in Cleveland. He has one career appearance against the Cubs, but it was almost eight years ago and I provide the boxscore simply for amusement value. Current Cubs are a small-sample-size 5-for-26 against him; in perhaps more relevant information, he posted a 5.29 ERA and 1.412 WHIP this spring.

Today's game is on WGN. In some parts of the USA this game will be on MLB Network, check your cable/satellite listings.

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 Phillies site The Good Phight.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

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.