TORONTO -- Under the current structure of the major-league baseball schedule, interleague teams (except for "natural rivals," a silly construct I hope they'll dump) play each other only every three years, alternating between home sites.
That means another six years before the next time the Cubs will visit Toronto, a city that's wonderful to visit with friendly people, lots of things to see and do... and a baseball team that is whipping the heck out of the Cubs.
Perhaps the Cubs can manage one win before they head on to Pittsburgh. If they can win tonight's game, they will stave off their fifth straight losing season for one more day. At 81 losses, a losing season is pretty much a foregone conclusion -- I doubt this team has a 17-game winning streak in it -- but at least they could hold on and put that 82nd defeat back one more day.
There's rain in the forecast tonight. Fortunately, that doesn't matter for the game, as they'll simply close the roof of the Rogers Centre. I will still have to bring an umbrella, so as to not get soaked getting back to my hotel. The Blue Jays told me the only events where you can't bring an umbrella to the Rogers Centre are NFL games -- because the NFL doesn't allow umbrellas at any of their games.
Happy Birthday to @CubsNoHitStreak -- on this date in 1965, the streak, currently at 7,808 games, began in this game against the Giants in San Francisco. Future Hall of Famer Billy Williams was the Cub who began the streak by getting the first hit in that game, a single in the third inning. Long live The Streak!
Here are tonight's particulars.
Coghlan LF, Baez SS, Valbuena 3B, Soler RF, Castillo C, Kalish CF, Alcantara 2B, Olt 1B, Watkins DH
Insert "other split-squad" joke here.
Reyes SS, Bautista RF, Encarnacion DH, Lind 1B, Navarro C, Valencia 3B, Pillar LF, Goins 2B, Gose CF
Today's Starting Pitchers
Kyle Hendricks struggled a bit in his last start, but still pitched well enough to put his team in position to win. Apart from his major-league debut -- in which he allowed three runs in the first inning, then just one in the other five -- he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his nine other starts, very consistent. That shows he can make in-game adjustments well, something that will serve him well in the future. He has obviously never faced the Blue Jays nor anyone on their roster; this will be his first interleague start.
Drew Hutchison had a decent first half, but has a 5.13 ERA and 1.215 WHIP since the All-Star break, though he has pitched better his last three starts (1.89 ERA, 22 strikeouts in 19 innings). He has never faced the Cubs nor anyone on the active roster. This is an intriguing matchup of good young pitchers; perhaps it'll be the pitchers' duel we've been hoping for during this series.
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.