The Cubs resume their interleague schedule tonight; they haven't played an American League team since they split a pair with the Yankees at Wrigley Field May 20-21. Overall the Cubs, who had a 13-5 interleague record in 2013, are 2-6 against clubs from the other league this season. So far, that comprises a 1-3 mark against both the Yankees and White Sox.
The Red Sox and Cubs have met three times since interleague play began, at Wrigley Field in 2005 and 2012, and at Fenway in 2011. The teams have split the six games in Chicago and the Red Sox have won two of three in Boston. Only in 2005 were the teams anywhere close to equal in ability, and you'd think the Red Sox would have the advantage over the Cubs this year, too, coming off their World Series win last fall.
But the teams enter this series separated by just three games -- now, if someone had told you on Opening Day that would be the case June 30, you'd probably have been pretty happy. But the defending World Series champions have struggled after the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury via free agency; his replacements have been mediocre. They futzed around at shortstop until finally re-signing Stephen Drew, but he's been horrific (.345 OPS -- yes, OPS. His OPS+ is -4). Their rotation beyond Jon Lester and John Lackey -- neither of whom will pitch in this series -- is a mess. And the Red Sox played one of their typical three and a half hour marathons against the Yankees Sunday night in New York, while the Cubs were enjoying their off day sightseeing in Boston.
For more, check out Russ La Croix' series preview, if you haven't already. Here are tonight's particulars:
Coghlan LF, Sweeney DH, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Schierholtz RF, Lake CF, Barney 2B
According to baseball-reference's Play Index, Ryan Sweeney has never started a game as DH before.
Red Sox lineup:
Holt RF, Nava LF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Napoli 1B, Bogaerts 3B, Drew SS, Betts CF, Ross C
Today's Starting Pitchers
These pitchers have long histories against their opponent tonight, but not against each other. Jake Arrieta has six career appearances against the Red Sox (five starts). He has never defeated them and has a 5.90 ERA and 1.586 WHIP in 29 total innings. He last faced them April 10, 2013 at Fenway, allowing three runs in five innings with four walks. But that was the old Arrieta, not this new version, the guy who's posted a 1.00 ERA in his last four starts (27 innings), with two walks and 36 strikeouts, and who took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last outing. I'm thinking this Arrieta does much better.
Jake Peavy is in his 13th major-league season and seems on the decline. He's posted a 4.93 ERA (and an identical FIP) in 16 starts this year. He has 14 career starts vs. the Cubs, his most against any team except those in the N.L. West, where he played for many years. He's got a 2.76 lifetime ERA and 1.193 WHIP in 84⅔ innings against the Cubs, but current members of the Cubs roster are 17-for-53 (.321) against him. Maybe this is payback time.
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.