The Cubs knocked the Brewers out of the top spot in the N.L. Central Monday -- a spot Milwaukee had occupied since April 4. If the Cubs can win again tonight and the Pirates can do their part by beating the Cardinals, there will be just two games separating the top three teams in the division after today's action.
The Cubs still have work to do to improve their poor record within the division (23-36), but they have at least now played the Brewers even this year (7-7) and are a reasonable 7-9 against the Cardinals. It's the Pirates and Reds the Cubs have had trouble against this year -- a combined 9-20 against those two teams. That accounts for almost the entire deficit to .500 for the Cubs this year -- 11 under against the Pirates and Reds, 53-56 against everyone else.
Of course, the Cubs still have nine games left against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. It would be a good sign for the future to do well in those games.
In the meantime, it's time to keep deflating the Brewers' playoff hope balloon. Here are tonight's particulars.
Coghlan LF, Baez 2B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Soler RF, Castillo C, Alcantara CF, Valaika 1B, Arrieta P
Gennett 2B, Lucroy C, Braun RF, Ramirez 3B, Davis LF, Parra CF, Overbay 1B, Herrera SS, Gallardo P
Today's Starting Pitchers
This game is a pitching rematch of the August 11 game at Wrigley Field. Jake Arrieta outpitched Yovani Gallardo that night, throwing seven solid innings. The only run he allowed was a solo homer by Mark Reynolds. Arrieta got hit pretty hard in his last start in Cincinnati; a turnaround from that would be nice. Since the 8/11 game Gallardo has posted a 1.89 ERA and 1.263 WHIP in three starts. We could be looking at a low-scoring game tonight.
Neither one of those guys looks very happy in those photos. Wonder what's up with that.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago Plus (check your cable/satellite listings for the channel).
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.