Blast from the past: 31 years ago today, Ryne Sandberg took over a Cubs/Cardinals game, hitting two game-tying home runs, the second with two out and down two runs in the bottom of the 10th. It put Sandberg on the national map as a star player and, more importantly, got that year's Cubs to really believe in themselves and that they could make the playoffs that year. They'd been in first place for a while earlier that season, but at the time of that June 23, 1984 game they had dropped to third place. The win was the second in a 13-5 run that put them just half a game out of first at the All-Star break.
The Cubs' record after The Sandberg Game? 37-31. Today, they stand 38-30, farther out of first place than they were 31 years ago today, but just half a game behind the Pirates for the first wild-card spot.
The Cubs have a way to go before being the dominant force we hope they can become, but they are certainly contenders this year, and without breaking the bank in either cash or prospects, if they can make an acquisition or two to help them get there, they ought to seriously look into that. On the other hand, they're doing pretty well with the team they have now, and will have Jorge Soler and Neil Ramirez re-joining it soon.
I trust you like the optimistic me better than how I was the last few years.
Here are today's particulars.
Coghlan LF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Castro SS, Baxter RF, Szczur CF, Hammel P, Russell 2B
Dexter Fowler is reportedly day-to-day and might be able to pinch-hit tonight.
Puig RF, Pederson CF, Kendrick 2B, Gonzalez 1B, Grandal C, Ethier LF, Callaspo 3B, Rollins SS, Greinke P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Because of the timing of Jason Hammel's trade last summer, he didn't face the Dodgers at all in 2014. So the last time he faced them was April 20, 2013, when he was with the Orioles, and looking at that boxscore, that was quite a different Dodgers team.
Hammel threw only four innings in his last start due to a rain delay in Cleveland, but he's been consistently solid most of this year. Current members of the Dodgers are 33-for-108 (.306) with four home runs off Hammel, but all of that is the "old" Hammel. I'm thinking he can do better than that now.
Zack Greinke has been really, really good this year. At no time the entire year has his ERA been over 2.00 after any of his starts. He's walked only 17 in 94⅔ innings and he has not allowed more than one home run in any of his outings, all of which have been at least six innings and half of which have been seven or more.
However! As I have posted before, Greinke has been really bad in his starts at Wrigley Field. Three starts isn't a huge sample size, but he's been pounded in all of them: 14 total innings, 28 (!) hits allowed, 11.57 ERA. So I thought: maybe it's day games, but nope. Greinke's career numbers are about the same day/night, and he got hit pretty hard by the Cubs last September 18, a night game, as well as in two previous day games.
So... let's hope this continues, and the Cubs give Greinke a smackdown tonight. You could say he's due.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
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The 2015 Game Thread procedure has changed a bit. Here's how it will work going forward.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.