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Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers preview, Friday 9/8, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs have a chance to increase their division lead against one of their closest rivals.

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That’s right, Seven-Oh-Five. Though the city of Chicago says this is a one-time exemption, I hope they will revisit the idea of Friday night games for seasons going forward — at least when the Cubs are coming off road trips.

Another night-game fact: Since lights were installed in 1988, the Cubs are 362-320 (.531) in Wrigley Field night games, including a 21-11 record (.656) this season. That means the Cubs are 19-18 in home day games this year, yet another reason today’s time change is a good thing.

The Cubs are in the midst of a stretch where they play 20 straight games, until their next off day Monday. In the 17 games so far, they are 11-6.

The Cubs are 34-18 (.654) since the All-Star Break, tied with the Washington Nationals for the second-best mark in baseball behind only the Cleveland Indians (37-16, .698), and have spent each of the last 44 days atop the N.L. Central since waking up in first place on July 27 (43 days alone, one day tied with the Cardinals).

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Jay LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Avila C, Happ CF, Heyward RF, Baez SS, Lackey P

Brewers lineup:

Thames 1B, Walker 2B, Braun LF, Shaw 3B, Santana RF, Vogt C, Broxton CF, Arcia SS, Nelson P

John Lackey vs. Jimmy Nelson

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

John Lackey since July 1: 3.90 ERA, 1.229 WHIP. The Cubs have won nine of his 10 starts in that time frame. His last outing was a brilliant seven-inning shutout appearance against the Braves last Friday.

Among those 10 starts referenced above was a solid six-inning, five-hit, two-run outing against the Brewers July 30 in Miller Park. The only runs scored on a two-run homer by Domingo Santana.

Criticize Lackey all you want, but he has tons of experience in pennant-race games and other important contests. His whole career has been producing in games like this one. I think he’ll step up big time tonight.

Jimmy Nelson has had a very consistently good year for the Brewers, with his ERA sticking in the mid-3 range most of the year.

He has made two starts against the Cubs this year, both in April. On April 7 at Miller Park, he threw six solid innings and allowed just one run, a homer by Ben Zobrist. On April 18 at Wrigley Field, the Cubs pounded him for nine hits and seven runs in 5⅓ innings, including a home run by Kyle Schwarber. Nelson has a 5.45 lifetime ERA in seven career outings (six starts) at Wrigley Field.

Today's game is on WGN.

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.