The Cubs still have that very small chance of hosting the wild-card game. In order to do that they'll have to keep winning. That would seem, well, not "easy" to do against the Reds, but Tuesday night the Reds looked like a dispirited team that just wanted the season to be over. And the Cubs have a better pitcher going tonight -- if Jon Lester can match what Dan Haren did Tuesday, another win could result.
The problem of that very small chance, however, is the fact that in order for it to happen the Cubs need the Reds to be dispirited tonight and tomorrow and then suddenly feel much better this weekend when they face the Pirates. Another problem was the Pirates' win over the Cardinals in the first game of their doubleheader Wednesday afternoon.
The Cardinals can still clinch the division title with a win in the night game of the DH; until they do, it's still possible for Pittsburgh to catch St. Louis.
Here are today's particulars.
Schwarber LF, Jackson CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Castro 2B, Soler RF, Russell SS, Ross C, Lester P
Dexter Fowler gets the day off, and Joe Maddon makes an interesting choice to lead off.
Bourgeois LF, Suarez SS, Phillips 2B, Frazier 3B, Bruce RF, Duvall 1B, Pena C, Holt CF, DeSclafani P
I had to look up who "Holt" is. It's Tyler Holt, who the Reds claimed on waivers from the Indians... three days ago. Has 91 MLB at-bats over the last two seasons with Cleveland, at age 26 doesn't seem like much of a prospect.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jon Lester has made three starts against the Reds this year, and the results aren't good: 4.74 ERA. However, that's a bit misleading. He's allowed 10 runs in 19 innings to the Reds, but six of them were in this game April 13, when Lester was struggling at the beginning of the year. The other two starts: 13 innings, four runs, 14 strikeouts. He hasn't faced them since June, and is overall having a good September. Lester needs two strikeouts tonight for his fourth straight 200-K season, and five to set a new Cubs record for a LHP in one season (current mark: 202 by Ken Holtzman in 1970).
The Cubs should be pretty familiar with Anthony DeSclafani after seeing him four times (24 innings) this year. He has a 1.88 ERA in those four starts, but the Cubs hit him reasonably well September 1 at Wrigley Field, scoring three runs in 5⅔ innings. Overall in September DeSclafani has a 4.25 ERA in five starts, with 29 strikeouts and just three walks in 29⅔ innings. The lack of walks means the Cubs should be ready to attack balls in the strike zone early tonight.
Today's game is on WGN. For coverage info in other Midwest markets click here (link opens .pdf).
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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.