It's been so long since the team from Tampa Bay has visited Wrigley that the last time they were here in Chicago...
- They were still officially the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, with a different logo and color scheme.
- Their manager was Lou Piniella, in his first of three seasons managing his hometown team.
- Some of their players that year included Rey Ordonez, Damion Easley, Terry Shumpert, Ryne Sandberg's nephew Jared Sandberg, and former Cub Geremi Gonzalez, who was killed when struck by lightning in his native Venezuela in 2008.
That was in June 2003. It's the series in which Sammy Sosa's bat shattered and was found to have cork in it, during this game, eventually won by the Cubs on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth. The boxscore is amusing; have a look at who played for both teams that night, the first game of that three-game set in which the Cubs won two of three.
The Cubs have played fewer games against the Rays (six) than any team other than the Orioles, who they'll also play this month. The only other meeting of the teams resulted in a 2008 Rays (they dropped the "Devil" that year) sweep in St. Petersburg. In fact, the Cubs will have a lot to say about the A.L. East and A.L. wild-card races, as they'll play the Blue Jays in September. All three of those teams are competing for postseason spots.
As always, I commend you to Russ La Croix' excellent series preview, if you have not already read it.
Finally, just a reminder to check out (if you haven't already) SB Nation's partner fantasy site, Fan Duel, where you can win real money. Here's the link.
One more personal note before today's particulars. I am really excited to go to Wrigley today to see this game. I can't remember the last time I felt that way.
Coghlan LF, Baez 2B, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Alcantara CF, Sweeney RF, Baker C, Wada P
The Rays are relative newcomers to this Friday afternoon game thing:
Today is only 6th Friday day game in #Rays history; Four were home or road openers, the other part of a split DH in Baltimore in June.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 8, 2014
Also, Joe Maddon is hitting pitcher Chris Archer eighth:
Jennings CF, Zobrist RF, Guyer LF, Longoria 3B, Rodriguez 1B, Escobar SS, Casali C, Archer P, Forsythe 2B
And, there's another former Cubs prospect, Brandon Guyer, hitting third.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Tsuyoshi Wada has made four big-league starts. Three of them have been above-average by Game Score (50 is an average Game Score), and he seems as if he could at least be in the mix for next year's rotation, despite only average velocity. Obviously, he has never faced the Rays nor anyone on their roster.
Chris Archer. Ah, yes. Now's the time for any of you who want to bring up the Matt Garza trade and what the Cubs gave up (Archer and others). I'll wait.
Archer is having a good year for the Rays, more or less matching his 2013 season. He's no ace, but is a productive member of a major-league rotation, and is 25 (for comparison, he's only a little more than a year older than Kyle Hendricks). He's been very good over the last two months, with a 2.88 ERA and 1.209 WHIP in 11 starts covering 68⅔ innings. He has never faced the Cubs nor anyone on their current roster.
Today's game is on WGN.
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.