Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 facts about the Cubs series

Cincinnati (88-59) continues its forward march to clinch the NL Central with a visit to Chicago beginning on Tuesday. It's there that they will meet the fifth-place Cubs (58-89) for a trio of games in hopes of shrinking their magic number from its current total of five.

They'll face a Cubs squad who enters the series as winners of seven of their last ten, but still remains 30.0 games back of the first-place Reds.

The Reds, on the other hand, are owners of the largest division lead in baseball (11g) despite dropping two out of three against Miami over the weekend.

Here are 10 facts you need to know about the series in Chicago:

1. Tuesday and Wednesday's games will begin at 8:05et. Thursday's affair will begin at 2:20et.

2. Here are the pitching probables:

Tues - CIN Homer Bailey (11-9, 3.93) vs CHC Justin Germano (2-7, 6.24)
Wed - CIN Mike Leake (8-9, 4.69) vs CHC Chris Rusin (1-2, 5.06)
Thurs- CIN Johnny Cueto (17-9, 2.92) vs Jason Berken (0-1, 7.20)

3. Cincy is already guaranteed the season series victory. They boast an 8-4 record against the Cubbies in 2012 with just these three games remaining between them.

4. Bailey is 4-2 in nine lifetime starts against Chicago despite a 5.68 ERA. He's 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three career starts at Wrigley.

5. Jay Bruce is the first player in MLB history to hit at least 20 homers as a rookie and then improve on that total in each of the next four seasons (21 in 2008, 22 in 2009, 25 in 2010, 32 in 2011, 33 in 2012).

6. With 1,150 hits, Brandon Phillips is just four hits shy of tying Joe Morgan for 18th-place on the club's all-time list.

7. The Cubs hold the worst record in MLB in one-run games. They are a dismal 13-26 in such games this year.

8. Cincinnati owns the best bullpen ERA in the league at 2.61. Meanwhile, Chicago ranks second-to-last with an unsightly, reliever ERA of 4.68.

9. Alfonso Soriano enters the series ranked third in the league in RBI (100). Bruce isn't far behind in a tie for fourth with 96.

10. The Reds trail the all-time series by a mark of 1,083-1,100. They are 418-441 all-time at Wrigley Field.

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