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Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays preview, Wednesday 5/31, 1:20 CT

The Cubs go for the series sweep!

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wednesday notes...

  • INTERLEAGUE PLAY: Another win over the Rays this afternoon would give the Cubs just their 10th sweep at Wrigley Field of an American League in a three-game series. Their last such sweep was on June 29-30 and July 1, 2018, when they outslugged the Twins, 10-6, 14-9, 11-10.

Their two previous sweeps were their only ones against teams in the AL East: August 18-20, 2017, against the Blue Jays, and August 22-24, 2014, against the Orioles. Half of the Cubs’ six earlier sweeps of A.L. guests were against the White Sox, in 1998, 2004 and 2008. The others were against the Royals (1997), Twins (2001) and Indians (2009).

The fewest runs the Cubs allowed in any of the sweeps was five, when they beat the White Sox, 6-2, 4-2 and 2-1 in 2004.

Today’s game will be the Cubs’ 228th at home against an A.L. team. They have won 120 and lost 107. (Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)

  • THE WALK WATCH: The Cubs have drawn 207 walks this season, including four in Tuesday night’s game. That ranks third in MLB this year and is 3.83 walks per game, a pace for 621. The franchise record is 656, set in 2016.
  • STILL A HOT HITTER: Seiya Suzuki, last 12 games since May 16: .366/.480/.707 (15-for-41) with two doubles, four home runs and nine walks.
  • ALZOLAY FOR CLOSER!: Adbert Alzolay, last eight outings since May 6: 1.59 ERA, 0.706 WHIP, just one walk and eight strikeouts in 11⅓ innings.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Rays lineup:

Justin Steele, LHP vs. Zach Eflin, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Steele’s last start against the Reds was his worst of the year — lots of hard contact, even the outs. Perhaps he was tipping his pitches?

In any case, Steele had been very good before that, going at least six innings in nine of his first 10 starts. Last year he faced the Rays April 19 at Wrigley Field and it did not go well — he didn’t make it out of the third inning. I think he’s a different pitcher now, though. Here’s hoping for a bounceback from the last outing.

Zach Eflin signed with the Rays as a free agent last offseason after several years with the Phillies. After a good start this year, his last four outings have been not quite as good with a 4.15 ERA, though he went at least six innings in all of those starts.

His last start against the Cubs was July 8, 2021 and just three Cubs hitters who appeared in that game (Patrick Wisdom, Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ) are still on the team.

Dansby Swanson has hit Eflin well in the past: 11-for-27 (.407) with six doubles and two home runs.


Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Rays site Drays Bay. If you do go there to interact with Rays 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 2023 Game Thread procedure will be like last year’s, similar to what we’ve used for Spring Training.

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, titled “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of week/date) game threads.” It will contain every post related to that particular game, including the first pitch thread and the overflow thread, as well as the recap when it’s published. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post.

You will also be able to find the preview, first pitch thread and the overflow thread in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). The StoryStream for each game can also be found in that section.

The first pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at 90 minutes after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.