A little more than two weeks ago, the Cubs lost three straight games, their longest of the year so far.
Since ending that streak, they are 13-4 and have won five straight series.
They'll try to make that six straight series, plus a season series win over the Braves, this afternoon -- plus, a win would get them to the milestone of 25 games over .500. The 2015 Cubs first got to 25 games over .500 on September 18, when they were 86-61.
This is the last game the Cubs will play at Turner Field. They will not miss it: all-time, the Cubs (going into this game) are 29-43 at the Ted.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Heyward RF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Coghlan LF, Baez SS, Ross C, Lester P
Inciarte CF, d'Arnaud 2B, Freeman 1B, Francoeur LF, Markakis RF, Garcia 3B, Flowers C, Aybar SS, Gant P
Jon Lester is having the best year of his career and since his disastrous outing in San Francisco has an 0.77 ERA and 0.686 WHIP with 26 strikeouts and two walks in 23⅓ innings. Last year, in his only start against the Braves, July 18 in Atlanta, Lester had a no-hitter going that neither he nor anyone else knew about until the seventh inning -- because of a scoring change on a first-inning hit by Nick Markakis, making it an error. Current members of the Braves are hitting. 227 (39-for-172) against Lester with one home run (Freddie Freeman) and 47 strikeouts.
John Gant is making his eighth major-league appearance today, but first start. He hasn't been very good in relief: 6.17 ERA, 1.714 WHIP in 11⅔ innings. He has obviously never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster. Fun fact 1: he was acquired by the Braves from the Mets for Kelly Johnson last July. Since then Johnson re-signed with the Braves in the offseason and was traded back to the Mets a second time. Fun fact 2: He is no relation to former Braves infielder/outfielder Ron Gant. Fun fact 3: Check out Gant's weird delivery:
Today's game is on WGN. Click here for a list of WGN's affiliates in the Cubs market territory.
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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.