What, you again? Sometimes the Cubs go more than a year without playing a team outside their division (the Mets, for example).
And then there are the times when the schedule-makers squash an entire season series into a two-week period... like now, when the Cubs are playing the Marlins for the second time in less than two weeks.
So, it's three more against them this week, and then probably not see them again for a year.
This series isn't going to be as easy as the one in Chicago seemed. The Marlins have the best home record in baseball -- 23-13. The Cubs have several ex-Marlins on their roster (John Baker, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Coghlan) and Baker hinted the Marlins might be stealing signs:
At least two major league advance scouts have noticed with suspicious eyes that the Marlins are batting 30 points higher at home than on the road. Former Marlins Justin Ruggiano and John Baker give credit to the Marlins' improved offense, but Baker intimated the Cubs would take precautionary measures before Monday night's series opener. "We'll have to make sure there aren't more extra cameras going in, but we'll take a look when we get there," Baker said Sunday. "I don't think there is (any sign stealing). We do change our signs a lot."
Interesting. The Marlins stand just one game out of first place in the National League East, a place few expected them to be. The Cubs won three of four at Marlins Park in 2013, but both teams have had multiple changes since then.
As always on the first day of a series, I point you toward Russ La Croix' excellent series preview, if you have not yet read it.
Valbuena 2B, Ruggiano RF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Sweeney CF, Lake LF, Olt 3B, Baker C, Hammel P
It does make sense to have Luis Valbuena lead off, given his high OBP. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are back in their usual 3-4 spots.
Marisnick CF, Baker 2B, Stanton RF, McGehee 3B, Jones 1B, Ozuna LF, Hechavarria SS, Mathis C, Koehler P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jason Hammel had his best start of the year against the Marlins June 6 at Wrigley Field -- seven shutout innings. He has never pitched at Marlins Park before. Maybe that's a good sign.
Tom Koehler had one rather shaky start against the Cubs in 2013, September 3 at Wrigley Field. Current Cubs are a small-sample-size 0-for-11 against him. He got off to a good start this year, but has a 6.00 ERA in his last six starts, which include five home runs allowed in 33 innings.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
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.