The Cubs and the Reds. This has not been a pleasant experience for the Cubs since 2010, and I won't belabor that.
This year, at least, the Cubs have been competitive with the Reds. They have won two of the five games so far, both by blowout scores (8-4 at Wrigley April 19 and 9-4 at Cincinnati April 30). One of the losses was by one run, one by three, the third a six-run blowout, so that overall, the Reds have scored 23 runs in the five games, the Cubs 22.
All of that was before Aroldis Chapman returned from his harrowing spring-training injury. The Reds have won 10 of their last 15 and are 15-4 in games in which Chapman has appeared. He has just one blown save and apart from this inexplicable appearance against the Blue Jays last weekend, has given up just two runs in his other 18 appearances. He has 41 strikeouts in 20 innings. Chapman, in 14 career appearances against the Cubs, has 23 K's in 14⅓ innings.
This is a key series for the Reds if they want to get back in wild-card contention. It's a key series for the Cubs if for no other reason than to show they can play good baseball against better teams.
Please check out Russ La Croix' series preview if you have not already done so.
Coghlan LF, Ruggiano CF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Sweeney RF, Barney 2B, Samardzija P
The Cubs went 4-1 last week with Luis Valbuena leading off. Chris Coghlan goes to the leadoff spot: back-to-back losses. Just sayin'.
Hamilton CF, Frazier 3B, Votto 1B, Mesoraco C, Bruce RF, Ludwick LF, Schumaker 2B, Cozart SS, Simon P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Even though a new team is visiting Wrigley tonight, we have yet another pitching rematch, this one from April 18 at Wrigley Field. Jeff Samardzija pitched reasonably well. The Cubs didn't score for him. You've heard this before, I know. After pitching exclusively in relief for the Reds the last two years, Alfredo Simon has been a revelation in the rotation for Cincinnati this year, posting a good 3.05 ERA and 1.105 WHIP. His FIP is a bit high at 4.44.
I expect a low-scoring game.
Today's game is on WCIU. WCIU games can also be seen on the following channels: Springfield/Decatur/Champaign, WCIX 49.2; Peoria, WAOE 59.1; Des Moines, WHO 13.2; Quad Cities (Davenport/Moline), WQAD 8.2 or 8.3; Ft. Wayne, WANE 15.2; South Bend, WMYS 69.1; Rockford, WTVO 17.2; and Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City-Dubuque KCRG 9.2.
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.