ON THE ROAD TO CHICAGO -- As you read this, I'll be somewhere on the road between Grand Rapids (where a downtown 5-K race had speakers blaring close to my hotel room at 7 a.m.) and Chicago, ready to return home.
The Cubs will be doing the same after this afternoon's contest; a win today would make for a 2-4 road trip, not a great mark, but after the first four games of this trip, I think any of us would have been well satisfied with that. As noted above, the last time the Cubs won a road series was August 5-7 against the Rockies; since that series the Cubs are 6-10 on the road. After today's game the Cubs will have just three more road games in 2014, the season-ending series at Milwaukee, and will wrap up the home season with a 10-game homestand.
I know. You're wondering too -- where did this season go? Sure seemed to pass by quickly.
Enjoy the games while they're still here, is what I think. Here are today's particulars.
Alcantara CF, Baez SS, Coghlan LF, Valbuena 3B, Valaika 2B, Olt 1B, Szczur RF, Baker C, Turner P
The Pirates lineup was not available when I got on the road for Chicago, and obviously I'm not going to be able to tweet it from there, either -- if you find it on Twitter, please post it in the comments.
Today's Starting Pitchers
After a rough outing in his first Cubs start, Jacob Turner has been pretty good in his last two outings, against the Brewers and Blue Jays. Oddly enough, despite two-plus years in the National League, he has never faced the Pirates, and the only player on their roster to face him is Ike Davis (2-for-10). Perhaps this will turn out well for Turner today.
Edinson Volquez's last start against the Cubs was June 12 in Pittsburgh, where he threw seven shutout innings. Of the seven hits he allowed, three were by players who are no longer with the Cubs (two by Darwin Barney, one by Jeff Samardzija). Volquez has a 1.80 ERA and 1.133 WHIP in his last seven starts, though he has also hit seven batters in that span. Clearly, we are doomed (or, at least, maybe doomed to have some HBP today).
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.