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Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves preview, Thursday 8/31, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs open up a four-game weekend series tonight.

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Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

A few run-scoring notes before tonight’s contest:

  • Including last night’s 17-3 win, the Cubs have scored 15 or more runs four times in August. The last time any Cubs team scored 15+ runs four times in a calendar month was June 1930. Those are the only two such calendar months in Cubs history since 1900 — and there’s still one game left this month.
  • The Cubs lead the majors with 185 runs scored in August (the Twins are second with 172), and the 185 runs are the most by a Cubs team in August since the 1930 squad scored 216 runs.
  • The Cubs scored seven runs in last evening’s fifth inning, their second seven-run inning in the last five games (also seventh inning at Philadelphia, August 26). Overall this year, it marked the 16th time the Cubs have scored at least five runs in an inning, fourth-most in the N.L. behind Washington (23), Colorado (19) and Arizona (18).

The Cubs’ 29-15 record since the All-Star break is a .659 winning percentage. If the Cubs maintain that percentage for their remaining 30 games, they’ll win 20 of them and finish 92-70.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Jay LF, Zobrist 2B, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Almora CF, Baez SS, Happ RF, Rivera C, Hendricks P

A mostly RH lineup vs. Braves lefty Sean Newcomb.

Braves lineup:

Inciarte CF, Phillips 2B, Freeman 1B, Kemp LF, Markakis RF, Suzuki C, Albies 3B, Swanson SS, Newcomb P

Kyle Hendricks vs. Sean Newcomb

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks had his best outing of the year in his last start vs. the Phillies (seven innings, two runs, eight strikeouts, no walks) and since his return from the DL has a 2.48 ERA and 1.300 WHIP in seven starts (40 innings). Those numbers aren’t too far off what he did last year, and his velocity has been ticking upward, seems like he might be peaking at exactly the right time.

Kyle hasn’t faced the Braves this year and his only appearance against them last year was a weird little two-inning relief appearance (the only relief outing of his big-league career) in that rainout makeup game played at Wrigley July 7, when Kyle was briefly relegated to the bullpen just before the All-Star break in 2016. Current Braves are hitting .212 (14-for-66) against Kyle with one home run (Matt Kemp).

The Cubs faced Sean Newcomb July 18 in Atlanta and hit him pretty well: eight hits, three walks and five runs in 5⅓ innings. That included home runs by Javier Baez and Willson Contreras.

Since then Newcomb has a 3.86 ERA in seven starts, but he has also walked 27 hitters in 37⅓ innings in those seven outings, and made it past the fifth inning in only three of them. The walks mean that perhaps the patient-hitting Cubs can wait him out for good pitches to hit.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

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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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