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Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays preview, Tuesday 9/19, 6:10 CT

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The Cubs finish up 2017 regular-season interleague play with a pair against Joe Maddon’s old team.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — It’s HOT here. Temperatures are in the low 90s and the humidity seems like about 9,000 percent. But the game’s indoors, so that won’t matter. I’m not usually a big fan of indoor baseball, but in this weather — it works.

Since there are only two teams remaining in MLB using artificial turf (Blue Jays and Rays), these will be the first games the Cubs have played on fake grass since they were in Toronto in September 2014. Thus some younger Cubs (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr.) have never played a big-league game on turf.

A few other notes ahead of tonight’s game:

  • The Cubs have never won at Tropicana Field. Now, that’s not as big a deal as it might seem, as this is just their second visit. They were swept by the Rays there in a three-game series in 2008. The only other current park in which the Cubs have never won is new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. The Cubs are 0-5 there. (They never won in the old Yankee Stadium, either — lost four World Series games there and went 0-3 in a regular-season set in 2005.)
  • Cubs DHs have batted .271 (177-for-654) with 31 homers and 115 RBI all-time at American League ballparks, including a .242 average (8-for-33) with three homers and seven RBI in eight games this season. Cubs DH’s this year: Kyle Schwarber (seven games) and Jon Jay (one game).
  • The Cubs have 209 home runs so far this year, third-most in franchise history. Next up: 212, accomplished in 1998. The franchise record is 235, set in 2004.
  • Anthony Rizzo has a 127-game errorless streak at first base. On Sunday he surpassed Ernie Banks’ 126-game streak set in 1969-70 as the longest for a Cubs first baseman since at least the live ball era’s start in 1920. (H/T: Ed Hartig) The major-league record is 159, set by Steve Garvey in 1984.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Jay CF, Zobrist LF, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Schwarber DH, Happ 2B, Heyward RF, Russell SS, Baez 3B

Looks like just a regular day off for Kris Bryant.

Rays lineup:

Kiermaier CF, Souza RF, Longoria 3B, Morrison 1B, Ramos C, Duda DH, Hechavarria SS, Dickerson LF, Miller 2B

Two of the players in tonight’s Rays starting lineup (Adeiny Hechavarria and Lucas Duda) were in the National League earlier this year and Duda played two games against the Cubs for the Mets. Wilson Ramos was in the N.L. last year (Nationals) and Corey Dickerson was there in 2015 (Rockies). So if you think this opponent lineup sounds familiar, it should.

Mike Montgomery vs. Chris Archer

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Montgomery has been moved into this start to push Jon Lester back a day, and thus have Lester skip the Brewers series and start vs. the Cardinals.

In his career he has made four appearances (one start) vs. the Rays for 10 total innings and four runs, which probably doesn’t mean much. His last start, vs. the Brewers, wasn’t too good, but he came back from that to throw a couple of shutout relief innings against the Mets last Thursday.

Current members of the Rays are a small-sample-size 2-for-18 against him.

Fun fact: Montgomery was traded from the Royals to the Rays in the deal that (among other things) sent Wade Davis to Kansas City in December 2012. Four-plus seasons later, Davis and Montgomery are Cubs teammates.

Former Cubs farmhand Chris Archer threw six innings July 4 at Wrigley Field and allowed eight hits and three runs. Jon Lester got touched up for nine hits and five runs in five innings, including a home run by Tim Beckham, who was traded to the Orioles later that month.

Archer has struggled since early July: 4.25 ERA in 13 starts since that Wrigley outing, and his September has been particularly bad: 14.14 ERA, 3.000 WHIP, three home runs in seven innings. He threw only eight pitches against the White Sox on September 2 and left with what was described as “forearm tightness,” and hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in two starts since then.

Today’s game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

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.)

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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Discuss amongst yourselves.