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The Cubs welcome the Milwaukee Brewers to Chicago for a four-game set, which will reunite Aramis Ramirez with his former team, and Dale Sveum with his. It’ll also give Cubs fans their first chance to openly discuss their feelings about Ryan Braun in a mature and thoughtful manner. I’ll be there for Thursday’s game, so I’ll make sure to give Braun hearty, good-spirited applause.

By way of reminder, the Series Preview hooks you up with what you need to know about every series this year – streaks, broadcast information, pitchers, expected lineups, etc. That way, if you want to check only one place to get a sense about an upcoming series, or to plan ahead, you’ve got it. Oh, and there will be pictures of beautiful women, too.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs salvaged the last game of their opening series against the Nationals, and we’ll all try to pretend that the Cubs are – like many teams in baseball today – just a 1-2 team, and not a team that was within a few outs of being 3-0.

The Brewers also come into the series at 1-2, having dropped the bookends of a three-game series with the Cardinals. The Brewers were a couple games under .500 in the Spring, for whatever that’s worth.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, April 9 at 6:05 CT on ESPN, WCIU.
  • Tuesday, April 10 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Wednesday, April 11 at 1:20 CT on WGN.
  • Thursday, April 12 at 1:20 CT on CSN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Chris Volstad (0-0, -.–), Paul Maholm (0-0, -.–), Ryan Dempster (0-0, 1.17), Matt Garza (0-0, 3.00)

Lineup:

  1. David DeJesus, RF
  2. Darwin Barney, 2B
  3. Starlin Castro, SS
  4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
  5. Alfonso Soriano, LF (he might actually be fourth, but I’d rather see the lefties broken up)
  6. Ian Stewart, 3B
  7. Marlon Byrd, CF
  8. Geovany Soto, C
  9. Pitcher

Brewers

Starters: Shaun Marcum (0-0, -.–), Chris Narveson (0-0, -.–), Yovani Gallardo (0-1, 14.73), Zach Greinke (1-0, 0.00)

Lineup:

  1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
  2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
  3. Ryan Braun, LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
  5. Corey Hart, RF
  6. Mat Gamel, 1B
  7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
  8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Starlin Castro’s consecutive games-reached-based streak is now up to 43, one shy of the longest such Cubs streak since 1928 (Riggs Stephenson for you trivia buffs/really old people). He’s also stolen four bases through three games, which is kind of amazing.

It’s been a rough start for Marlon Byrd, who had just one hit in three games against the Nats (although it was an important hit, a two-out RBI single).

We casually refer to the problems “in the bullpen,” but truly, it’s just Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol. And it’s still early. Here’s hoping the rest of the bullpen gets a chance to shine this week (a very short chance), and, if Wood and Marmol make an appearance or two, may they look like different men.

Aramis Ramirez is back in town after leaving in favor of Milwaukee this offseason. He’s just 1 for 11 on the season, but that one was a homer.

Corey Hart has supplied most of the Brewers’ offense this year after missing the Spring with a knee issue. He’s hit three homers, and has a .444/.545/1.556 line through three games.

And then there’s Ryan Braun. This isn’t just Cubs’ fans’ first look at Braun since his offseason drug test scandal, it’s his first game on the road, period. That means that Cubs fans have the opportunity to set the tone for how he’ll be received by opposing fans all year. My guess? He won’t be received well. Over/under on needles on the field? Five. Over/under on “personal medical issue” signs? Also five.

By the way, I’ll be at Thursday’s game, and I’m pretty excited about the pitching match-up: Matt Garza versus Zach Greinke.

Series She-View

The Series She-View is one beautiful woman representing the Cubs taking on another (usually) beautiful woman representing the opponent. The Cubs’ representative will change as the team’s needs change – in other words, if the Cubs are winning, the rep will stay the same. But if the Cubs’ performance calls for a change, someone new will step in. The opponent’s representative will change from series to series, at my whim. But at least she’ll probably be wearing the opponent’s colors or have some connection to the team or something like that. It is immature, and the connection to baseball is tenuous at best. These things, I know.

To start the 2012 Chicago Cubs season off on the right foot, I thought they needed to be represented by a woman who had, herself, had the most successful offseason of all supermodels. She graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and was feature in some commercials for a baseball video game (I’d be lying if I said I paid the kind of attention necessary to tell you what game). Yes, I’m talking about the beautiful, ever-present, Kate Upton.

Kate’s reign got off to a mixed start. On the one hand, the Cubs easily could have won all three games against the Nationals. On the other hand, they actually won just once. But I think it’s fair to stick with Kate for at least one more series. Maybe the trick is just finding the right pictorial representation – perhaps a classy picture is in order. And nothing says classy like black and white, right?

For the Brewers, nothing changes from year to year: beautiful woman with beer. A man needs little else – at least according to the picture. The beer appears to be the focus, which may make it harder to choose a winner.

Versus

  • Fishin Phil

    I do think Kate is mighty hot, but girls and beer! This puppet is might conflicted right now.

    • TWC

      The beer chick has herpes.

      • Stinky Pete

        And “she’s” not really a chick.

        • Jay Anderson Jr

          At least her testosterone levels say she’s not a woman.

          • Joshua Edwards

            ^^ These help me make good choices. Thanks, fellas.

            Also, for what it’s worth, today’s game is free on MLB.TV (http://mlb.mlb.com/mediacenter/)

      • hardtop

        edit becasue it was an unecessarily crude and not terribly funny reply.

        Let me sum up this series with a quote from Bob Lemon:

        “The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen.”

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    I recall saying Castro could steal 30 bases. I know its only 4 in 3 games, but Looks like he on his way. At this rate he’ll have 216. Keep it up Castro.

  • Bails17

    I would just like everyone to recognize the I introduced Kate Upton to BN last year…quite the foresight I have..I know….BTW..your all very welcome!!

  • Ash

    I think the offense looks much better with LaHair in the lineup, which isn’t surprising. I’d like to see Johnson get more pt in CF with Byrd off to a sluggish start.

    I’m also more excited to see Volstad and Maholm pitch then I was to see Demp and Garza. Let the auditions begin!

  • scottie

    bummer! i got a few co-workers around to show the the hot chics for the brewers series.. and the pics are blocked at work lol sorry guys

  • Frank

    I know what you mean, Phil–but here’s what I’m thinking: go to a game, have a few beers with Kate, and the problem’s solved. Now, if I could just work that out . . .

    • MichiganGoat

      Quit dippin in my Kool-aid, I saw her first.

  • Kyle Mayhugh

    I’m trying to convince myself there’s still something here, that .500 or so is still a possibility.

    I can convince myself that the baserunning aggressiveness is a way to maximize a bad lineup, which is probably true.

    I can convince myself that the rotation is going to be as good as we all hoped.

    I can convince myself that Kerry Wood won’t always be this bad.

    If I had any faith in Carlos Marmol at all, I think I’d be okay. But he’s just going to be terrible.

    Anyway, taking 3 out of 4 from the Brewers would go a long way toward strengthening my sad little sprout of optimism.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If the Cubs split the series, I’ll be encouraged. Is it possible that I’m more pessimistic than you? Can’t be, right?

    • DocPWimsey

      Good base running can maximize any lineup, but not enough to affect runs scored to any great degree. In 2011, the Padres probably got the most “extra” runs from base-running: that let them come in 15th in runs scored with the leagues 16th best (aka worst) OPS. The Rays probably got the 2nd most “extra” runs from base-running: taking the AL’s 8th best OPS to the AL’s 8th best runs scored.

      As for the importance of the bullpen, remember that the ChiSox probably had the 2nd best bullpen last year, while the Cards and Phils had two of the worse bullpens last year.

      So, look at slugging and OBP. 0.500 teams give up about the same number of HR as they hit and they give up about the same number of walks as they allow. Is that this team?

    • CubsFanBob

      I am very positive on the season and believe we have a good chance to grab one of the wild cards. At the very least I expect the Cubs to be in the wild card race come September led by our starting pitching and ability to manufacture runs.

      If you go back to 1998 when the Cubs were in the playoffs it took four years of crap seasons then on the 5th year playoffs in 2003. After 2003 it took three years and on the fourth and fifth year ( 2007 and 2008 ) they made the playoffs. It’s been three years since their last playoffs. If recent history continues we are due for a playoff spot this year if not next.

      Mark it down….

  • Spencer

    For some reason I just have this feeling Volstad is going to come out tonight and throw a dud. I have no idea why I have that feeling, and I hope I’m wrong.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      Honestly, as much as I dislike him starting, I’m to optimistic after the first three starts to agree with you. I think 6+ innings, maybe 5 hit and 2 runs.

  • Myles

    Kate Upton in a walk. Again.

  • cubsnivy56

    thank you for giving kate one more chance.  winner winner chicken dinner!

  • Patrick

    How do you get the television line up schedule? I’m a huge fan stuck in St. Louis so I try and find out what station I can watch it on. I noticed you posted the schedule on here. Where would I find that? Thanks!

    • Pete

      I second Patrick’s request. I am also stuck here in St. Jethro Bodine and could use a schedule posted.

    • BN Virgin
      • Patrick

        Thanks!

    • JB88

      “I’m a huge fan stuck in St. Louis”

      *Resisting the urge to make a fat joke. Resisting the urge to make a fat joke.*

    • Joshua Edwards

      I posted it above in a reply but, if you didn’t see it, today’s game is free on MLB.TV so you can watch online, too.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/mediacenter/

  • Frank

    An infield double–that’s Cool Papa Bell speed–used to go from 1st to 3rd on an infield out. Of course, he once said that he just ran halfway to 2nd then cut across the diamond because he knew everyone’d be watching the ball . . .

    • JB88

      My favorite Cool Papa Bell story was how he could flick the light switch in his hotel room and be in bed before the light went out.

  • Sven-Erik312

    Come on Volstad. With a last name like that, you got to have some Swedish Viking blood in there Dude!
    Ge fan i bullpenen nu! Nu ta du dom jävlar!

    • Shawon O’Meter

      Yes! How cool would it be if Volstad rode to the mound on an eight legged horse (named Sleipnir, of course) ala Odin on his journey to Valhalla? I love when Cubs baseball and Norse mythology coincide!

    • Mike Foster

      mork, mork, mork….

  • Sven-Erik312

    The game starts here in Sweden at midninght, Swedish time and a rebroadcast tomorrow afternoon. Right now, we got the Phillies/Marlins game. My first live look at the Cubs will be (gulp!) Friday the 13th when they play Saint Louis. Who knows, maybe on that day the bullpen will be perfect…

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