Catching up from Saturday night's action, the Pirates got shut out by the Nats while the Cardinals shut out the Marlins.
So, the Cubs' lead over the Cardinals in the N.L. Central remained at eight games, while they picked up a game over the Pirates and lead them by 9½ games.
A win this afternoon would complete a series sweep. The Cubs haven't swept a series at Wrigley in nearly a month, when they swept the Pirates in a three-game series June 17-18-19. Also, a win Sunday would keep the Cubs undefeated in interleague play so far this year (they're 4-0).
There's a chance of storms this afternoon, so you might have to refer to this before and during the game:
Here are today's particulars.
Baez 2B, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Russell SS, Heyward RF, Szczur LF, Almora CF, Lackey P
Odor 2B, Desmond CF, Beltre 3B, Fielder 1B, Rua LF, Mazara RF, Andrus SS, Chirinos C, Hamels P
John Lackey has not been good over his last six starts: 6.23 ERA, 1.529 WHIP, seven home runs. Hopefully, the break has done him some good. Having been around a long time, he has faced many current Rangers. Current members of the team are 40-for-163 (.245) against him with four home runs, three of them by Adrian Beltre.
You all know what happened the last time Cole Hamels pitched in Wrigley Field, so there's no sense rehashing that game. I will note that the Cubs have played 156 games since then and are 101-55 in those games.
Interestingly, Hamels and Lackey pitched against each other last year, April 27, 2015, when Hamels was with the Phillies and Lackey with the Cardinals. Both threw well, but Hamels was a bit better. Hope that's reversed today. This might be the time to get to Hamels, as his first two July starts were pretty awful (combined 10 earned runs in 8⅓ innings, nine walks allowed, both against a bad Twins team).
Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago. For affiliate info in the Illinois/Iowa/Indiana blackout markets click here. It's also available nationally on TBS (outside the Chicago market).
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.