Today is the final 3:05 Friday start of 2015 at home. (Tomorrow's game will be the last scheduled 3:05 game of the year, unless the September 26 game winds up at that time.) I've gone on record many times as being opposed to this starting time. It kills the whole day, and you leave and get dumped into rush-hour traffic. On sunny days the shadows make it hard to hit and tough on right fielders. I'm not the only one who feels this way. Joe Maddon agrees with me:
The Cubs play 3:05 p.m. games against the Braves this afternoon and Saturday, but this could be the last year they schedule the late afternoon starts, at least if the players have a say. Players and manager Joe Maddon don’t like so many different starting times, since they’re mostly creatures of habit and like to do the same routines at around the same times every day. The Cubs’ business department likes the 3:05 p.m. starts on Fridays because it gives fans an excuse to take off work early, but Maddon’s increasing clout in the organization could change their minds. "I definitely had that talk with the guys upstairs," Maddon said. "It's awkward. I'm not going to deny it's awkward. You get used to playing at 1 p.m. or 6 or 7 (p.m.)." Maddon also pointed out it’s not really his call. He just works there. "Hopefully that's something we can work our way through," he said. "I know I don't have any influence on that right now. I'm not even trying to influence that. But it's something to discuss moving forward." Cubs president Theo Epstein definitely has Maddon’s ear, and if it turns into a battle between the business and baseball sides, Epstein is likely to come out on top.
One of the reasons for the 3:05 Friday starts is that the Cubs are prohibited by ordinance from playing Friday night games. That's something the city really should relent on; with the number of night games pushing 40 per season, a handful of Friday night games -- particularly coming off road trips -- would help everyone.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Schwarber LF, Coghlan 2B, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Soler RF, Hendricks P, Russell SS
So, obviously, Kris Bryant is OK, since he's in the lineup.
The Braves lineup was not available at the time I wrote this preview. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Braves lineup.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Kyle Hendricks threw 5⅔ innings against the Braves July 17 in Atlanta. He allowed two runs (one earned), but threw 100 pitches, which is probably too many for that short an outing. Hendricks has had a couple of decent starts since then and a couple of bad ones, and has been trying to figure out what to do to get back to his performance level of last year. Here's hoping he's done so.
The Cubs beat Shelby Miller July 19 in Atlanta, taking advantage of some bad Braves defense to score three runs (only one earned) in six innings despite getting only four hits off Miller. He did walk four Cubs, so perhaps patience today will help. One of the four hits was a home run by Jorge Soler. Miller is by far the Braves' best starter, so this is likely the toughest game of the series.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago. In most of the USA this game will also be on MLB Network (check your cable/satellite listings).
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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.