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busch stadiumCarlos Villanueva makes his second start for the Cubs, and it will hopefully go as well as the first one. You’re not looking for Villanueva to dominate (though you’d always love to see that), but you’d like to see the Cubs head into the later innings of the game with a chance to win.

That could be tough today, though, because the guy on the other side is Adam Wainwright. Who is very good. Always.

Emilio Bonifacio gets the day off today, so Junior Lake has the unenviable task of going up first against Wainwright. It’s an interesting lineup, without a clear platoon bent (for his career, Wainwright has a 57-point OPS split against lefties and righties, so it’s not huge). Mike Olt does not get the start today, which could just a matter of not wanting to put too many righties in the lineup. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that he was shaking out and stretching his shoulder after a slide back to first last night. That’s the shoulder that gave him trouble all of Spring Training.

With a win today or tomorrow, the Cubs can win their first series of the year, which would be damn skippy.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (4-6) at St. Louis Cardinals (5-5), 1:15 CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Carlos Villanueva (4.26 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 4.31 xFIP; 4.00 K/BB)

versus

Adam Wainwright (1.29 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 3.16 xFIP; 2.67 K/BB)

St. Louis Cardinals Lineup

1. Matt Carpenter, 3B

2. Kolten Wong, 2B

3. Matt Holliday, LF

4. Matt Adams, 1B

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Allen Craig, RF

7. Jon Jay, CF

8. Daniel Descalso, SS

9. Adam Wainwright, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Junior Lake, LF

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Nate Schierholtz, RF

5. Ryan Sweeney, CF

6. Starlin Castro, SS

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. John Baker, C

9. Carlos Villanueva, P

  • mjhurdle

    Looks out

  • mjhurdle

    Castro really flashing leather out there today.

    • wkranz

      Looks to me like 2012 Castro could be back at the plate with improved glove. He seems really into the game.

  • KHRSS

    What a play Castro!

  • waittilthisyear

    haha hinske has gotten so fat since he retired, not that he was ever a real lean guy. he gives so much love to the fellas when they get to first too

  • EB

    Ricky loves him a challenge. He’s going to be the all-time challenge win record holder.

  • wkranz

    Just so we are clear RR…this is a bad time to bunt

  • cubbiehawkeye

    I like Javier Baez just as much as the next cubs fan but Castro shouldn’t be pulled off the shortstop position anytime soon. He makes the plays and the only question mark left is whether he can retain focus out there all season. I’m not saying Baez shouldn’t be playing short in Iowa just making an observation for the future.

    • KHRSS

      I think once Baez gets bigger he will be too big to play SS and he doesn’t have the range Castro has.

      • cubbiehawkeye

        Yeah, that’s been the general consensus around here. My Pont is that Castro this year is letting it be known that he can do more at the position (fielding wise) than the routine stuff. We’ve seen flashes of it in the past but this year he looks to be a little more consistent….so far. I guess we’ll see if he can maintain focus throughout the year.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          I would say that is his off season conditioning program paying dividends. I think there is little doubt that he will be a Cub for a long time.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      It has been stated time and time again that short stop is the premium position for any infielder and that if a player can play short then second base is not that big of transition. Barney was a short stop before he was a second baseman and so was Alcantara as well. A few weeks will be sufficient for Baez at second. Don’t forget he was working at learning that position during ST.

      • cubbiehawkeye

        I’m glad he’s at short in Iowa but if anyone had a hope that he would play short in Chicago I think they need to throw that thought away. He is a future 2B or 3B in the majors as long as he’s with the cubs. Which I think 99% of the bleacher nation readers have thought.

  • mjhurdle

    I like how Sweeney is upset, like he was shocked that Adam Wainwright would throw a curveball in the dirt on a 3-2 count.

  • waittilthisyear

    frustrates me when these guys dont run on strike 3 in the dirt. make him throw it, who knows

  • wkranz

    …Should have tried the squeeze.

  • mjhurdle

    if barney can knock Nate in, that would be huge.

  • waittilthisyear

    too bad barney is such a weak stick, he gives you a nice professional at bat every time

  • JasonP

    Barney loves long at bats, but seems to hate drawing walks.

  • KHRSS

    I doubt Villanueva gets out of the 4th, runners on 3rd and 1st no outs.

    • wkranz

      Yeah, that was a real bad decision by Rizzo not to take the out.

  • mjhurdle

    V doing his best to make sure that the Cubs cant come back

  • Medicos

    Based on what I’ve seen from Rizzo and Castro so far this year, any talk about trading either of them to another team should stop. These 2 are going to be core players in leading the Cubs to a possible WS Championship. I could some day see : Rizzo-Baez-Castro-Bryant becoming the next Banks-Beckert-Kessinger-Santo infield for the next decade.

    • Jon

      Kelton , Montanez, Hill, Choi

  • Jon

    Batting practice out there

    • wkranz

      Really? They have two infield hits and one off Barney’s glove. Still don’t feel like they have been just ripping him. Granted, he has very little swing and miss stuff.

  • wkranz

    How many weak hits do the Cardinals have this game? Unreal.

    • waittilthisyear

      in fairness, how many dinkers did we have yesterday? not to mention we have given away 2 outs this inning with ill advised decision making about where to throw the ball. but to answer your question; yea, a lot

  • The Real Wrigley

    Time to pull Carlos? MAYBE??!!!??

  • TSB

    Excuse me, Ricky, but maybe it’s not Villanueva’s day. Just thought I’d mention it…

  • Funn Dave

    Guys…take the easy outs, please…..

  • JasonP

    For once I wish everyone was fielding like Starlin today.

    Rizzo really rough in the field today.

  • Funn Dave

    V finally get pulled? I’m following the Gameday.

    • Funn Dave

      Ugh how sad to be saying “finally” in the fourth….

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Happy was too slow to pull the trigger. When you have a guy like Wainright on the mound you can’t let him continue to give up runs. Gonna take a miracle to pull this one out.

    • mjhurdle

      its the game after an extra inning night. I don’t ming him letting V try to get as far as possible. better that htne pulling him, going through 4 more pitchers so that we lose today and have zero bullpen left for the game tomorrow with Jackson..

  • WilliamGlass721

    I would rather have Rusin start until Arrieta gets back.

  • ChicagoJoe

    Joe Kelly is arguably a much better 5th starter than V, but this is clearly the difference between these two teams.

    Good lineups from top to bottom beat up on bad pitching. We have seen a lot of good guys opposite us on the bump to start the year, but when you see the other teams worst starter and you have opportunities you don’t let them off the hook. This game is far from over, but this is an example of what you are supposed to do when the pitching match up is 1 vs 5 even if some of these hits have really been lucky so far. Not a very high line drive % from Cardinals today.

  • cubsluver22

    Have a safe trip to Memphis tonight Rusin

  • Kyle

    The MLB FA pichers on this roster are Jackson, Villanueva, Wright and Hammel, right?

    Maybe it actually would be better if Epstein and Hoyer stayed away from that market…

    • cubsluver22

      Don’t let facts get in the way of you spewing your utter nonsense.

      • Kyle

        What facts are you referring to?

        • WilliamGlass721

          What’s wrong with the way Hammel has pitched so far?

          • Kyle

            Nothing. Just interesting that in aggregate so many of our pitching problems come from that group. I couldn’t list the other four and not mention Hammel. That would be inaccurate and ignoring facts.

            • cubsluver22

              Villanueva had a bad game and you being the all things negative poster you are spewed nonsense and grouped pitchers together to try an backup your nonsense. Fact is you were off base like normal. Go pound some sand

              • Kyle

                So Villanueva pitched badly in the Cubs game that is currently being played, and I commented on it?

                Quite the villain I.

                • cubsluver22

                  Finding something negative everyday or in most threads doesn’t make you a smarter fan.

                  • Jon

                    Well, neither does being a cheerleader

                  • Kyle

                    I don’t recall ever saying it did.

        • cubsluver22

          Hammel’s been good. Wright was a relatively cheap pickup ad relievers are always a shot in the dark ask Billy Beane who went and got JJ for a double digit salary. Theres a Villanueva on every MLB roster. Spot starter, long relief guy who is relatively cheap also. Every season we have found gold and turned them into long term options.

          You never miss a chance to bash somebody or something.

          • Kyle

            So you didn’t mean “facts” you meant “my opinions.”

            And bringing up an interesting coincidence is not bashing. There’s only one person bashing anyone in this conversation.

            • cubsluver22

              Only person interested in your opinion or your interesting coincidences is you yourself

              • Kyle

                You are not qualified to make that statement. You only speak for yourself.

              • Jon

                On the bright side, if you assume we didn’t give up 10 runs today we could be in a position to win this game and go 5-6

              • JacqueJones

                I personally found it interesting. It is something to consider given that the hope is that the team will supplement their superb positional prospects with some FA pitching in the future.

            • JasonP

              I think it is worth noting that Feldman, Baker, and Maholm also are in that group. They have netted Arrieta, Strop, and Vizcaino.

              Still not an impressive group, but there is potential that Arrieta, Hammel and Jackson could be parts of a solid rotation as #4-#5 (maybe #3) starters while Vizcaino and Strop could be big players in a good bullpen.

              Not exactly world beaters with the signings of pitchers on the FA market, but not exactly a disaster either.

              • Kyle

                I just think it’s an interesting coincidence that right now that those five pitchers are responsible for 31 of the 49 runs the Cubs have allowed to date.

                • Kyle

                  It becomes doubly interesting when you consider that not getting results from FA pitching was frequently one of Boston fans’ biggest complaints about Epstein.

                  • FFP

                    Yes.
                    Theo’s FA track record in Boston reveals a possible weakness in his early self. Boston had money, development and money for more deals to paper over bad signings. And his replacement fixed a half-ton of Theo’s ‘mistakes’ with LA money.
                    (Maybe it’s just an FA thing. High risk High reward, right where you don’t expect it.)
                    Theo himself is, I’m sure, painfully aware of this apparent shortcoming. That *might* be assuring to fans of other franchises. But, it makes me nervous. Will we pull the trigger when we need to? That’s why I was pleased to see the Cubs were all in on Tanaka; why I am not at all pissed about how EJax looks right now.
                    We can’t be shy when the available player and our team and the division/league is right.!

                    • FFP

                      (Where the fuck did that exclamation mark come from?)

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Comparing success from free agent pitching to success from pitching in general is somewhat skewed – the best pitchers have a tendency to not hit free agency.

                    I’d be more curious to see how the Red Sox and now the Cubs fared from free agent pitching acquisitions as compared to the rest of the league in that category.

    • JacqueJones

      You forgot Veras…

      • Kyle

        Shoot. I was including him in the stat, but I didn’t list his name. I was counting five and only listed four.

        • Jon

          Fujiwaka and Conception too

  • TSB

    Just once I’d like to see the Cubs overcome a big deficit and win a game; well maybe in 2015

    • JasonP

      Good first step to doing it that inning.

      This game could be a lot different if Rizzo and Valbuena had taken outs at first instead of trying to throw out the lead runners on tag plays.

  • WilliamGlass721

    These Cardinal announcers are so smug and insufferable! I would never want to hang out with them.

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