Hooray! At long last, there is no threat of rain for tonight's game -- nor will there be for the rest of the homestand, just beautiful late-summer, almost-fall weather.
The Cubs are going for their second straight home sweep, seventh consecutive home victory, and 10th overall sweep at Wrigley Field this year.
Fun fact of the day: Kris Bryant has 61 homers in the first two seasons of his career. That's ninth all-time. Joe DiMaggio holds the record: 75. Next up on that list: Mark Teixeira with 64.
Others on this list: Jose Abreu (66), Frank Robinson (67), Albert Pujols (71), Ryan Braun (71), Eddie Mathews(72), Ralph Kiner (74).
Pretty good company, I'd say.
That ought to be enough to get you going for tonight's game!
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soler LF, Heyward RF, Russell SS, La Stella 2B, Contreras C, Hammel P
Harrison 2B, Bell 1B, McCutchen CF, Polanco RF, Marte LF, Cervelli C, Rodriguez 3B, Mercer SS, Vogelsong P
As you know, Jason Hammel was lifted early in Saturday's game, throwing only 39 pitches, so he's going today on three days' rest (swapping spots with Mike Montgomery, who will start tomorrow). He was having an excellent second half before two bad starts on the last road trip, so hopefully pitching in Wrigley will be the cure. He's got a 1.79 ERA in 12 home starts (70⅓ innings) this year, 4.65 in 13 road starts (69⅔ innings), a pretty large split. In two starts vs. the Pirates this year, he's allowed three earned runs in 11⅔ innings.
Ryan Vogelsong's overall numbers this year (3.02 ERA, 1.283 WHIP in 50⅔ innings) aren't bad, and he actually has done better as a starter (2.25 ERA, 1.083 WHIP in seven starts) than as a reliever (4.91 ERA, 1.773 WHIP in 10 relief appearances). Two of those relief outings were against the Cubs, back in May, one at Wrigley, one in Pittsburgh. Total: 3⅓ innings, one run, a home run by Anthony Rizzo. Did you know that Vogelsong made his major-league debut against the Cubs? It was almost exactly 16 years ago, September 2, 2000, a two-inning, scoreless relief appearance for the Giants. Boxscore link included for amusement value.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It will also be on ESPN outside the Chicago and Pittsburgh markets. ESPN announcers: Jon Sciambi, Rick Sutcliffe and Doug Glanville.
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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.