ICYMI Friday night, the Pirates lost to the Nationals and the Cardinals lost to the Marlins. (And keep your eyes on both those N.L. East teams, because either one could be a Cubs playoff opponent.)
One day into the second half, the Cubs' lead increased by a game over both St. Louis (eight games) and Pittsburgh (8½ games).
Let's increase that by another game today, shall we?
Here are today's particulars.
La Stella 3B, Bryant RF, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Contreras LF, Heyward CF, Russell SS, Montero C, Hammel P
Odor 2B, Desmond CF, Beltre 3B, Moreland 1B, Rua LF, Mazara RF, Andrus SS, Wilson C, Darvish P
Jason Hammel recovered from a horrific outing against the Mets to have a better one in his last pre-break start against the Braves. He pitched against the Rangers three times in his stint with the A's in 2014 and allowed four earned runs in 14⅔ innings. Current members of the Rangers are 22-for-84 (.262) against him with one home run (Prince Fielder).
Yu Darvish missed a year and a half after Tommy John surgery. He came off the DL in May, made three starts, then went back on the DL with a shoulder issue unrelated (most likely) to the TJS. This is his first start back from that issue. He has never faced the Cubs, and the only Cub he's faced for more than a couple of at-bats is Ben Zobrist (2-for-10, two walks).
Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago. For affiliate info in the Illinois/Iowa/Indiana blackout markets click here. It's also available on MLB Network outside the Chicago and Dallas-Ft. Worth markets.
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
Baseball-reference.com game preview
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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.