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Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants preview, Monday 7/9, 9:15 CT

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The Cubs open up a six-game California road trip in San Francisco.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN FRANCISCO — And so now you know why I was up before 5 a.m. CT today writing an article about the Cubs’ flight problems in getting to the West Coast. I caught an early-morning flight and will be at the three games this week at AT&T Park. Fortunately, my flight (this one, if you must know) had no similar issues.

Monday notes:

  • The Cubs are 51-36. That’s just one game worse than they were after 87 games in the great 2016 season, where they reached this point 52-35. Granted, that was the team record after their horrendous 5-15 slump following a 47-20 start. Still, though, you can see that this year’s Cubs team could be poised for a big second half — and that’s with a lot of things going wrong so far.
  • Ben Zobrist ranks second among major league switch-hitters with a .294 batting average and a .387 on-base percentage, trailing only Francisco Lindor (.298 average) and Jose Ramirez (.395 OBP). Ian Happ’s .380 on-base percentage is third-best among major league switch-hitters (minimum 200 at-bats).
  • Speaking of Happ, he is hitting .405 (17-for-49) with nine runs, a .537 on-base percentage and a 1.061 OPS in his last 14 games since June 23. He has 12 walks and 14 strikeouts in that span.
  • Addison Russell’s .281 BA (75-for-267) ranks third among N.L. shortstops, trailing only Brandon Crawford (.300) and Trevor Story (.284). Russell’s .353 OBP is third, as well, behind only Crawford (.365) and Trea Turner (.355). Addy is hitting .294 (10-for-34) with three doubles, two homers, 14 RBI and six runs scored in his last nine games since June 28. Manny who?

Lastly, some new guy is playing third base for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies tonight, in a game that started about an hour ago:

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Giants lineup:

Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Andrew Suarez, LHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks’ overall numbers this year are well below his previous level of performance.

However.

Through the end of May, he had made 11 starts and posted a 3.19 ERA and 1.020 WHIP, which are both well within his usual norms. A few more homers than usual (11 in 67⅔ innings, compared to 17 all of last year), but overall he’d been just fine.

June was horrific for Kyle. No two ways about it, a 7.03 ERA and 1.685 WHIP isn’t good. His first July start wasn’t good, either.

But Kyle has a history of good second halves. Hopefully that starts tonight. Kyle’s one start against the Giants this year, May 25 at Wrigley Field, was one of his best of the season: seven innings, two hits, one run, seven strikeouts. He has a 3.38 ERA and 1.375 WHIP in three career starts at AT&T Park.

Andrew Suarez was the Giants’ second-round pick in 2014, a round in which the Cubs chose Donnie Dewees. Oh, well.

Anyway, Suarez made his major-league debut this year and in 14 starts, has been pretty good. He’s actually been really good over his last five starts: 2.10 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, just six walks in 30 innings, so he’s averaged six innings per start over that span.

He’s never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster, although Victor Caratini went 0-for-3 against him last year in a Triple-A game, small sample size, of course.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and San Francisco markets).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Giants site McCovey Chronicles. If you do go there to interact with Giants fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. 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.