A few pre-Game 2 notes:
- Albert Almora Jr., at 23 years and 181 days old, last night became the fifth-youngest Cub to homer in a post-season game. The youngest was Frank Demaree (22 years, 114 days) in Game 4 of the 1932 World Series. The others: Kyle Schwarber (22, 216) in the 2015 wild-card game, Addison Russell (22, 270) in Game 4 of the 2016 NLCS and Javier Báez (22, 316) in Game 4 of the 2015 division series vs. the Cardinals.
- Jon Lester enters tonight with a 2.57 ERA (41 ER/143.1 IP) and a 9-7 record in 24 career postseason games (20 starts). He’s walked just 34 and struck out 122 in those, and has recorded a 1.00 WHIP. In three postseasons with the Cubs, he’s 3-3 with a 2.58 ERA (17 ER/59⅓ IP) in 10 games (eight starts).
- Game 5 of the division series against the Nationals, at 4:37, was the longest nine-inning game in postseason history, breaking the record of 4:32 in Game 5 of last year’s NLDS, when the Dodgers eliminated the Nationals.
Here are today’s particulars.
Jay LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Almora CF, Russell SS, Heyward RF, Baez 2B, Lester P
Taylor CF, Turner 3B, Bellinger 1B, Hernandez LF, Forsythe 2B, Barnes C, Puig RF, Culberson SS, Hill P
Jon Lester vs. Rich Hill
Fun fact: Jon Lester and Rich Hill were teammates in Boston in 2010, 2011 and 2012. , Hill’s only regular-season start against the Cubs was during their first-ever regular-season visit to play the Red Sox at Fenway Park, May 21, 2011. The Cubs won the game, but not until after Hill had departed. The boxscore names should amuse you.
Jon Lester has been great this postseason, both as a starter and as a reliever, hitting his stride (after a brief DL stint) just when the team needs him most.
He made two starts against the Dodgers in the regular season in 2017. He threw six excellent innings against them April 10 at Wrigley Field (one run, seven strikeouts), then got pounded for six runs and two homers May 28 at Dodger Stadium, and didn’t finish the fourth inning.
The April version is what we need tonight.
Rich Hill in September: five starts, 1.86 ERA, 0.759 WHIP. Rich Hill in his only appearance in the division series against the D-backs: four innings, three hits, three walks, a homer by Paul Goldschmidt.
Hill did not face the Cubs at all during the 2017 regular season. The last time he faced them was Game 3 of the 2016 NLCS, when he threw six shutout innings against them.
The way to get at him, at least this year, is to score early. Hill had a 6.12 ERA during the regular season in the first inning, 2.68 in all other innings. The D-backs did that in their division series game — the two-run homer by Goldschmidt was in the first inning.
Expect the Cubs to be pretty aggressive early tonight.
Today’s game is on TBS. Announcers: Brian Anderson, Ron Darling and Sam Ryan.
MLB.com Gameday (classic mode) (Note: Going forward, I am going to link to the “classic” Gameday here because MLB.com broke the links I used to use to get to their “new” Gameday. If you click on this link, you can then click on “New Gameday” at the bottom of the page to get to the updated version. Note that the “classic” Gameday won’t load until just before game time.)
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The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. 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.
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Discuss amongst yourselves.