LOS ANGELES -- Yes, I'm here in the City of thehoping to celebrate Thursday night. That'll be a tall order... but this team has done many such tall orders this year.
Last time the Cubs played road games in the NLCS, in October 2015 in New York, it was mighty cold: 48 degrees for Game 1, 45 degrees for Game 2.
That will most emphatically not be the case for Games 3, 4 and 5 at Dodger Stadium. Forecast highs for today are in the 80s, but it could get into the 90s or even close to 100 degrees Thursday.
Hot enough? Hope that heats up the Cubs bats.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Zobrist LF, Rizzo 1B, Baez 2B, Soler RF, Russell SS, Montero C, Arrieta P
Well, Joe Maddon said he was thinking about some minor lineup tweaks and I think these work. Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez moved up, and Jorge Soler in right field instead of Jason Heyward against the lefthander Rich Hill. Makes good sense. Now score some runs!
Utley 2B, Seager SS, Turner 3B, González 1B, Reddick RF, Pederson CF, Grandal C, Toles LF, Hill P
Of course, you know Dodger Stadium was the site of Jake Arrieta's first no-hitter, last year. He did not pitch there during the 2016 regular season, and in his only outing vs. the Dodgers, May 31 at Wrigley Field, he threw seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits (though four walks) with 10 strikeouts. (The Cubs lost that game via bullpen meltdown.) I'll take one of those Jake outings tonight, please.
Current Dodgers are hitting .209 (18-for-86) against Jake with two home runs (Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Reddick).
Rich Hill. Wow. I give him tremendous credit for coming back from indy ball and various surgeries to be the kind of pitcher the Cubs hoped he would be when they drafted him. In 24 regular-season starts in 2015-16, Hill posted a 2.00 ERA and 0.926 WHIP. In the postseason this year? Uh... not so much. 6.43 ERA, 1.857 WHIP in two starts covering just seven innings. This Cubs team is so young and Hill was away for so long that just four current Cubs have faced him, and only David Ross (who isn't starting tonight) has more than three at-bats against him.
In short, good scouting will have to suffice, and hope Hill gets hit the way he did in the division series against the Nationals.
Today's game is on FS1. Announcers: Joe Buck, John Smoltz and Ken Rosenthal.
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The 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.
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.