Game 2 of 162 notes:
- Since the start of the 2015 season, the Cubs are 51-30 (.630) in interleague play, the top mark among all N.L. clubs and third in the majors behind Boston (59-21/.738) and Houston (55-25/.688).
- After this series, the Cubs will have 17 more interleague games. The next one will be at Wrigley Field against the Angels, April 12-14. It will be the Angels’ first visit to Wrigley since 2013.
- More interleague: Cubs designated hitters have batted .270 (190-for-704) with 34 home runs and 119 RBI in 177 road contests against the American League. The team’s.270 average and .467 slugging percentage are second-best among current N.L. clubs’ designated hitters all-time, trailing only the Cardinals’ .299 average and .507 slugging mark from DHs.
- Back to the N.L. Central: While the Brewers and Cardinals play more than half their season’s games against each other by April 18, just six of the Cubs’ first 29 games through May 1 are against N.L. Central Division opponents, and all of those are in a row: at the Brewers (April 5-7) and vs. the Pirates at Wrigley (April 8, 10-11). The last time the Cubs played six or fewer games against their own division in the season’s first 29 games was 2001 (six games against the N.L. Central).
Here are today’s particulars.
Hey, Yu, what do you say?— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) March 30, 2019
Groove a couple fastballs today. pic.twitter.com/DxmhNZFJhU
Yu Darvish, RHP vs. Edinson Volquez, RHP
Yu Darvish vs. the Rangers. Somehow, it seems fitting that Darvish’s return to major-league play is against the team that originally signed him, almost like this is a clean slate. The Rangers are one of only three teams Darvish has never faced (Cardinals and his other former team, the Dodgers, are the others), but he has pitched plenty in Globe Life Park. He has a career 3.60 ERA and 1.176 WHIP in 60 starts there. Of course, zero of those starts were against the Rangers. Those numbers are pretty close to his career averages (3.49 and 1.190).
The only Ranger he has faced for more than four at-bats is Asdrubal Cabrera (5-for-16, one home run), so that’s not of much predictive value.
More so: Darvish had a good spring (2.25 ERA in four starts, 14 strikeouts in 12 innings), showed good velocity and he seems motivated to show that he’s the pitcher the Cubs thought they were getting a year ago.
Unlike Darvish, Edinson Volquez has a long history against the Cubs, mostly from his time with the Reds. He hasn’t faced them — or anyone, actually — since 2017, coming back from injury. Volquez got pounded around during spring training: 6.75 ERA, 1.425 WHIP in five starts covering 13⅓ innings, for whatever that’s worth.
Current Cubs are hitting .283 (15-for-53) against Volquez. That’s not a lot of at-bats, but those players also have 12 walks off him. That might be significant.
For whatever it’s worth, no Cubs team has ever defeated Volquez. In 13 appearances (12 starts) he’s 8-0 against them. But then, Mike Minor was undefeated against the Cubs before Thursday’s start, too.
Volquez is returning to the franchise with which he made his MLB debut in 2005. That’s so long ago that among his teammates that year were Kenny Rogers and Sandy Alomar Jr., both of whom debuted in MLB in the 1980s.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago Plus.
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The 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. 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.