Shutouts are fun, aren't they? That is, when it's your team throwing them.
Here are some fun Cubs shutout facts, now that they have thrown back-to-back blankings against the Reds.
- The last time a Cubs team threw three consecutive shutouts was in 1992 -- July 21, July 22 and July 24 (July 23 was an off day). The first two were in Cincinnati, the last in Houston. Only the middle of the three games was a complete game, thrown by the pitcher who would win that year's N.L. Cy Young Award, Greg Maddux. The others were thrown by combinations of nobody special.
- The last time a Cubs team threw three consecutive shutouts at Wrigley Field was in 1976 -- July 5, July 6 and July 7, all against the Padres. The 1976 Cubs weren't a very good team, going 75-87, but the Padres were worse at 73-89, though they were over .500 at the time the Cubs threw those three straight shutouts. Again, only one was a complete game, the last of the three, thrown by Rick Reuschel. The starters for the other two were Steve Renko (who had his game finished by Casey Coleman's father, Joe, who posted one of his four Cubs saves that day) and Steve Stone, who threw six innings and then was relieved by Bruce Sutter, who threw three innings for his third career save.
The 2014 Cubs can match those feats with a shutout of the Reds tonight. Likely? No. But I doubt it seemed likely in 1976 or 1992, either. Shutouts aren't easy, as you know. Even in the deadball era, when runs were scored at a very low rate and the Cubs were a dominant team, no Cubs team threw more than three straight shutouts -- that's the team record. The major-league record is six, set by the Pirates in 1903. The record in recent years is five, posted by the Orioles in 1974 and again in 1995.
The streaks above hold the big-league records for such things -- 56 by the 1903 Pirates, 54 by the 1974 Orioles. The Cubs shut out the Pirates for the last three innings of Sunday's debacle in Pittsburgh, so Cubs pitchers are on a streak of 21 straight scoreless innings. The longest consecutive-inning scoreless streak for Cubs pitchers since 1950 is 33, from August 2-5, 1971. That streak consisted of the last six innings on 8/2, and then three consecutive shutouts of nine innings each on August 3, August 4 and August 5. (Many thanks to Ed Hartig for the Cubs scoreless-inning-streak info.)
Also, the Cubs enter tonight just 3½ games behind the Reds (three in the loss column) for fourth place in the N.L. Central, with 11 games remaining. I'd still like to see the Cubs catch the Reds and finish out of last place. A win would also make the Cubs' record against the Reds this year 8-11, which, while not great, would be the team's best record against Cincinnati since 2009.
Here are today's particulars.
Coghlan LF, Baez SS, Rizzo 1B, Soler RF, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Valaika 2B, Kalish CF, Hendricks P
Negron SS, Santiago 3B, Rodriguez CF, Ludwick LF, Lutz RF, Hannahan 1B, Elmore 2B, Barnhart C, Corcino P
No, I'm not making that Reds lineup up. That's who they're playing -- one regular (Ryan Ludwick). It's the kind of lineup a team puts on the field in mid-September after clinching a playoff spot. Only the Reds aren't going to the postseason this year.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Kyle Hendricks made his major-league debut against the Reds July 10 in Cincinnati. He gave up three runs in the first inning and then settled down and pitched quite well the rest of that game. The Reds will be the third team (Cardinals, Brewers) he's faced for a second time; he did reasonably well on both those other occasions. Since that rough first inning in the big leagues Hendricks has thrown 67 innings with a 2.01 ERA.
Daniel Corcino also made his big-league debut against tonight's opponent; he pitched a scoreless inning of relief vs. the Cubs August 26 in Cincinnati, striking out Welington Castillo and Chris Valaika and getting Chris Coghlan on a line drive to left. This will be his second big-league start; he did reasonably well in the first one, September 12 against the Brewers, throwing six innings and allowing two runs.
It's supposed to be another cool night at Wrigley; I'd expect yet another pitchers' night.
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.