So, the Cubs' magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now seven.
They also pulled to within one game of the Pirates; both teams have 15 games remaining. It's going to be a great last two weeks.
Autumn weather has arrived for today's game with last night's strong storms and the passage of a cold front. This is important because of today's forecast, which includes temperatures only in the 60s and strong winds blowing in.
It'll be a pitchers' day, most likely, so the Cubs will have to play small ball. They've shown they are capable of doing this, even in a year where they've hit so many home runs. The 11 walks they drew Friday brought them to 509 for the year, which is their most since 2008, when they had 636, which is second in franchise history. With those 15 games left, they've still got a shot at getting close to 600 walks. That's been done only six times in franchise history.
Here are today's particulars.
Jackson CF, Soler RF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Castro 2B, Baez SS, Denorfia LF, Ross C, Wood P
The Cardinals lineup was not available at the time I wrote this preview. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Cardinals lineup.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Travis Wood didn't appear in the last series against the Cardinals in St. Louis, but did make a couple of scoreless relief appearances against them in the series at Wrigley in July. Wood has been much better in relief (3.29 appearances in 39 games) than starting (5.18 ERA in eight starts) this year, but he's also been much better at home (2.89 ERA in 24 appearances, three starts) than on the road (5.36 ERA in 23 appearances, five starts). He'll probably be expected to go three, maybe four innings, then Trevor Cahill could stand behind him.
The Cubs absolutely pounded Michael Wacha September 8 in St. Louis, the worst start of his career. That included homers by Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. He was better against the Reds in his subsequent outing, six innings, two runs, but he also walked four in that game. The Cubs have gotten quite good at taking walks lately, and that might be a good strategy today.
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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.