The Cubs and Red Sox split the first two games of this historic weekend series at Wrigley.
The series may mean more to the 32-33 Red Sox in the standings, as they try to battle through a heap of adversity to start the season, but a win Sunday would still mean a lot to the Cubs.
Just as former players like to play well against their old team, the same can be said for coaches and front office executives. It's the competitive spirit in them all. Sure, Theo Epstein still keeps tabs on the Red Sox and how they're doing but why not get a couple of wins out of them while they're in town for the weekend?
This series is also a sort of measuring stick for the Cubs. They've been trying to copy the Red Sox model for over a year and as Theo and Co. try to develop "The Cubs Way," the players and coaches merely have to look across the field to see how well it worked for Theo in Boston with "The Red Sox Way."
Here's the way the Cubs will line up against Franklin Morales (who gets the spot start for Josh Beckett, who landed on the DL Saturday with a shoulder injury) in the rubber game:
1. Reed Johnson - RF
2. Darwin Barney - 2B
3. Starlin Castro - SS
4. Alfonso Soriano - LF
5. Jeff Baker - 1B
6. Joe Mather - CF
7. Welington Castillo - C
8. Luis Valbuena - 3B
9. Paul Maholm - P
Adrian Gonzalez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks will get a rest for the Red Sox tonight. Saltalamacchia hit a two-run shot in Saturday's ball game.
Here's the rest of the Red Sox lineup:
1. Scott Podsednik - LF
2. Dustin Pedroia - 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis - 3B
4. David Ortiz - 1B
5. Mike Aviles - SS
6. Darnell McDonald - RF
7. Kelly Shoppach - C
8. Ryan Kalish - CF
9. Franklin Morales - P
Luis Robert has accomplished many things this season. Now he can say he took a 13-year big league vet deep.
OK, so that vet was Dioner Navarro, a catcher by trade who pitched the eighth inning in a lopsided Triple-A Charlotte win.
Robert hit two home runs in Charlotte’s 8-2 win against Columbus on Sunday. The Knights hit five home runs in the game and were up big entering the eighth inning so Navarro came in to pitch.
Robert promptly took him DEEP.
Navarro was lobbing in 72 mph pitches and was getting hit hard by every batter. He was throwing batting practice.
The best part about Robert’s bomb is Navarro’s quick head-snap after delivering the pitch and seeing Robert hit it a long way.
Throw in Robert’s home run earlier in the game and the 22-year-old outfielder is up to 11 home runs in 33 games in Triple-A. He has 27 homers on the season between three levels of the minors.
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One of the most iconic aspects of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, is the hill behind center field at Lamade Stadium. Fans bring carboard boxes with them to the ballpark, using them to slide down the hill while Little League games commence on the ball field.
Sunday, the Cubs and Pirates visited Lamade ahead of their Little League Classic matchup later in the day. Several Cubs took the opportunity to fully embrace the experience, taking turns sliding down the famous hill at the ballpark.
Anthony Rizzo and manager Joe Maddon demonstrated some A+ form, while former Cubs catcher and current ESPN broadcaster David Ross' care-free form is amazing.
Kris Bryant and Cole Hamels also took turns down the hill, and you've gotta love the pure joy on their faces.
The Little League World Series serves as a friendly reminder that baseball is a child's game. While the competitive aspect of MLB part of the game, it's nice to see the Cubs embracing the experience.
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