The Cubs (45-55), who are 3-4 on their 10-game road trip will send Edwin Jackson (6-11, 5.03 ERA) to the mound as he bids for a fourth win in five starts. The 29 year old right-hander had his personal three game winning streak snapped after yielding 4 runs in seven innings of a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Sunday. However, Jackson is 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA over his last 8 outings after beginning the season 1-8 with a 6.29 ERA through his first 11. While opposing teams have sat on his fast ball over the last few years suggests perhaps a decline in velocity, but more often than not has pitched well enough for the Cubs to win only to be victimized by the offense behind him squandering opportunities.
Tonight Jackson faces San Francisco (46-55), who as much as they've underachieved still find themselves trailing the first place Dodgers by 7.5 games in the NL West. The defending World Series Champions are averaging just under 4 runs per contest but are hitting .263 collectively despite hitting just 63 HRs. The bulk of the offense surrounds Buster Posey (.318 14 59), The 202 NL MVP and defending batting champion has a chance to duplicate the latter feat in 2013 where he enters tonight 7th. Posey is tied for the club lead in HR with free swinging Hunter Pence (.278 14 51). Pence leads the Giants in hits with 111 along with his 14 stolen bases in as many attempts as it's rare to see a power hitter of his caliber tops on the team in thefts. Marco Scutaro (.311 2 22) has done a fine job getting things started at the top of the lineup while showing patience and consistency. However, most expected Pablo Sandoval (.269 9 48) to be a bit more productive though he has hit .333 over his last 13 games. Brandon Belt (.263 10 39) has also provided some clutch hitting but as noted by manager Bruce Bochy is hitting the ball with a lot more clout than the numbers show. While SF doesn't showcase a whole lot of power, a little small ball combined with speed and gap hits can manufacture runs even at AT&T Park.
San Francisco counters with Matt Cain (6-6 5.00) who is by far going through one of the toughest seasons of his career not hoping for a 2007 repeat where he was 7-16 with a 3.65 ERA. Cain earned his first win in more than a month after allowing two runs in five innings of a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Saturday. His numbers are far off from the 16-5 record and 2.79 ERA he posted last season, though a strong second half could benefit putting the Giants back in the race. Cain faces a Cubbies lineup who despite not having much trouble scoring better than 4 runs per contest is hitting just .243. A large part of their 111 HR was taken away from them earlier today as Alfonso Soriano was traded back to the Yankees in exchange for pitcher Corey Black. The 37 year old Soriano (.254 17 51) should be an instant help to the Yankees anemically offensive outfield, which is traditionally known to put up big numbers. Chicago does have some pop as evident by Nate Schierholz (.280 13 42) who leads the team in hitting and is also the subject of trade talk around the league. Starlin Castro (.249 6 29) is hitting over .300 over the last few weeks and is showing signs of slowing down his midseason slump. Anthony Rizzo (.239 14 58) has slowed some after a promising start but is on pace to eclipse Soriano's numbers given a strong second half. While the Cubs are strictly playing for pride, it might be nice to see some of the supporting cast like Luis Valbuena (.231 9 31) and Darwin Barney (.218 6 28) produce timely after going through some recent struggles.
The price this evening is just about right as is the total, but were not worried about the pride and heart of San Francisco being known for pitcher's to be a delight of a venue. Jackson may need to be careful of his control tonight and if he gets into trouble early it will only prove to be a long night once he gets to the middle core of the lineup. Given Cain's season long struggles which indicate past the halfway point he might be flirting with double digit losses, the Cubs in losing one of their franchise players could start fresh this evening playing the spoiler's role strictly for team respectability. We'll look to notch our 6th in the last 7 early taking advantage of a lower line challenged even by mediocre at best offenses. Best of luck however you play!