Series Preview: Unfamiliar Territory

The Blue Jays haven’t played a game at Wrigley since 2005. Back then, Josh Towers was the starting pitcher, pitching coach Pete Walker made a relief appearance, and Gregg Zaun was the catcher. Good times!

Friday at 2:20 ET

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For whatever reason, the Jays and Cubs are playing an afternoon game on a Friday. I don’t know if that’s some kind of Chicago thing, but I think it’s weird. Anyways, today’s game will feature the first-ever game between two players with the last name Happ, as Ian Happ will start at second base and J.A. Happ will be Toronto’s starter.

Jake Arrieta will get to face his old pal Miguel Montero, who called him out for being a reason why he isn’t able to throw any base stealers out. As we know from Montero’s time in Toronto, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s pitching, he just has a noodle arm. Anyways, Arrieta has been very good in the second half of the season after a sort of rocky start. Since the beginning of July, he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start and has cleared six innings in seven of eight starts.

Saturday at 2:20 ET

Nick Tepesch will be given his third opportunity as a starter for the Blue Jays on Saturday, but he might be used as an emergency reliever on Friday because only four pitchers are available out of the ‘pen in the series opener. Tepesch got rocked by the Yankees in his first outing, but was very solid against the light-hitting Rays in his second outing. He’s allowing 3.5 walks and home runs per nine and is striking out 3.5 batters per nine, so the goal for Tepesch is to eat innings and hopefully keep the Jays in the game.

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They’ll go up against former White Sock Jose Quintana, who hit the ground running after being traded to the Cubs, but has had a few rough outings recently. In hie first three starts with the Cubs, Quintana allowed five earned runs in 19 innings while striking out 25, but in his next three, he’s allowed 10 runs in 16 innings and has 13 strikeouts. In a start against the Jays with the White Sox back in June, Quintana held Toronto to two runs on five hits over seven innings.

Sunday at 2:20 ET

The finale will feature Marco Estrada, who’s coming off of a rough start against Tampa Bay, and Kyle Hendricks, last year’s National League ERA champion. Hendricks hasn’t been as excellent as he was last season, owning a 3.45 ERA through 16 starts, but since coming back from the disable list in late-July, he’s allowed more than one earned run in only one of five starts. That said, he also hasn’t been able to get through further than the fifth inning in three of those starts, as command has been a major issue.

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The Jays currently sit three games out of a wild card spot and are three games under .500. The Cubs lead the National League Central by a hair and have struggled to play consistent baseball all season. It’s difficult to predict o expect a sweep of anybody when you’re the Blue Jays, but if Toronto does somehow manage to pull that off, they’ll hit that .500 mark for the first time this season heading into a series with Tampa Bay.

Just keep winning and it’ll all hopefully work out!

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  • The Humungus

    Yes, it is a Chicago thing. You’re too young, but Wrigley was the last stadium to get lights, doing so in 1988 (mid-season, too, not even to start the year). Prior to that, they only played day games at home. I only know this because I remember it happening in my lifetime (one of my earliest baseball memories; I was 8).

    The tradition has held, though. They still play most of their home games during the day and almost always on Friday.

  • lukewarmwater

    My earliest memory was Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in 1956. So Humungus indeed ponticated brilliantly about the history of the Cubs and day games. Got to congratulate the Cubbies going to 7 games over 500 as they won another one of those Jay could have , should have would have contests. Two running miscues didn’t help in this game. Always have to remember with the pitcher hitting that a guy like Arrieta who has regained his old form automatically has about a dozen less pitchers thrown due to the usual one, two three or four at the most and you are out pitcher batting. Jays could have used a Brett Gardiner or Pedroia or the first two month version of Pillar and fouled off a number of pitches to get his count up. But heh the guy pitched a solid game and he got superb defence behind him. Jays made a game of it but how many times can you go to the well with a untried reliever and expect to get away with it.
    Jays in tough now with Tepesch and Estrada who it seems is showing his age this season.
    Got to admit Jay fans the greatest in the world as 47,000 show up for final home series and a gazillion fans travel to the windy city to see the Ivy on the wall. Got to get to 500 on this tough road trip as the world series champs are determined to try to get to a stinking 10 games over 500 with all that talent and a guy who I still think is one of the best managers in the game Joe Maddon.

  • lukewarmwater

    On a note about day games, it wasn’t till 1935 that the Reds hosted the first night game. Now in 2002, Tom Hanks and the Dream Works crew produced a movie called the Road to Perdition based in the early1930’s. Well they had a scene where Hanks young son is driven by a ball park with lights on. I immediately in the theatre demanded the automatic replay which was sent to Joe Torre and crew in New York. After the review I was ruled right and Steven Spielberg was admonished for creating a false narrative about night games in baseball.