Deep dish or thin crust? Italian beef or a Red Hot? White Sox or Cubs? Battle lines run deep in Chicago on many fronts, and while the food wars won't ever be settled, the next four days in Second City will at least decide which side of the baseball rivalry gets bragging rights.
Thursday's Game Four
By: Willie Bee
Good news for White Sox fans is their team finally scored a run in the series with the Cubs. Of course, the ChiSox didn't score nearly enough to match a big day for Cubbies hitters as the clubs prepare to bring this week's action to an end Thursday afternoon.
The Cubs can post their first season-series win since 2008 with a victory at Wrigley Field, and opening MLB odds suggested they would with Dale Sveum's troops thinly chalked in the -110 to -115 range. The number has swung around to the White Sox being the small favorites after overnight action, with some shops charging 20¢ lines having the game as a pick 'em.
Specifically, it was one member of the Cubs lineup on Wednesday that decided the game as Dioner Navarro clubbed a career-high three homers and drove home six in a 9-3 victory. Scott Feldman made another nice start for the Cubs with seven strikeouts and nary a walk in six innings.
On the mound today for the visitors will be Jake Peavy who has enjoyed a lot of success against the Cubs since joining the White Sox. The Pale Hose are 4-1 in his five starts vs. their Second City rivals while Peavy owns a 1.55 ERA (2-0 at Wrigley, 1.35 ERA).
He is 2-1 in three interleague starts this season, the loss coming at Washington in early April, and is coming off a complete-game performance last Saturday in a 2-1 win at Miami, losing the shutout in the ninth inning.
Travis Wood takes his turn in the Cubs' rotation, facing his second American League club of the year and also making his second career start vs. the White Sox. The southpaw out of Little Rock was roughed up in Cincinnati his last time out, the second straight loss for the Cubs with Wood on the hill. The North Siders are 3-3 in his 2013 home assignments, and beat the ChiSox at US Cellular Field last June in his first and only taste of this rivalry (6 IP, 2 ER, 5 K).
There is a 50% chance of a thunderstorm in Chicago this afternoon when temps should settle in the low-80s. A strong south wind around 20 mph (out to left) is also in the mix, and that will definitely affect the total yet to be released by baseball betting outlets.
The same umpire crew that started the series on the South Side did remain in Chicago to complete this set, only they crossed us up a bit in the rotation following Tuesday's rainout. Clint Fagan should work the plate in this afternoon's 2:20 PM (ET) start, the OVER 6-4 in his 10 previous assignments of 2013.
If 'Babe' Navarro can jack three out on a day without much help from wind at Wrigley, today's match could turn into Home Run Derby if the current forecast holds. Until the total comes out, however, I will be backing the Cubs as home dogs with my sports picks.
My pick: Cubs +103 Bet365
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
It's not the first time this interleague series has been thrown off by rain, and given the fickleness of Mother Nature, especially in the Chicago area, it won't be the last time the Cubs and White Sox have one of their matchups postponed.
The Windy City rivals now hop an El to the North Side to continue the series Wednesday at Wrigley Field. A pair of hurlers who came up together through the Texas Rangers organization collide in the matinee as John Danks faces Scott Feldman. It's the Cubs who get the chalk line on the MLB odds board, with morning numbers in the -125 to -130 range.
Though rain was in the forecast on Tuesday, the storm that rolled through Second City was a bit of a surprise. Scattered t-storms are also in the mix Wednesday afternoon with a 30% chance of rain, muggy temps in the low-80s and a SW wind around 12 mph currently in the mix (out to center).
As always, no total was available this morning while sportsbooks wait for more precise weather info before releasing a scoreboard figure for a contest at Wrigley.
Danks is making just his second start in a little more than a year, and it comes on the mound where he made his final appearance of 2012 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. The southpaw has enjoyed a lot of success at Wrigley Field, and against the Cubs in general, over the years, tossing a combined 19.1 frames at the friendly confines and allowing just two earned runs.
The White Sox are 3-2 in his five Danks' five career starts vs. the Cubs, the Austin native pitching to a 2.30 ERA.
Feldman strung together five quality starts before getting banged around last Friday in Cincinnati. The big righthander's most recent appearance against the White Sox came last July in Texas in a Rangers uniform, and it was a good one (8 IP, 0 ER). Before that, however, he had very little luck against Chicago's AL entry. In six previous starts and six prior relief outings, Feldman owned a 5.08 ERA before that gem in July 2012.
The same umpire crew may stay in Chicago to finish this series off, and if so it would put Clint Fagan behind the dish for this match. He has worked 10 previous games this year with a 6-4 O/U mark and home teams 7-3.
Moving to an NL park for the rest of this series means no DH, and that should favor the Cubs who are outscoring the White Sox this season despite the South Side squad having an extra stick in their lineup most of the time. I'll get behind those lovable losers in this one with a play on the Cubs.
My MLB Pick: Cubs -125
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
We noted in Monday's preview how both Chicago lineups have struggled to push runners across the pay station. The Cubs did their best to disprove that idea while winning the series opener, but White Sox hitters had no answer for Jeff Samardzija who tossed the eighth shutout for the North Siders in this annual series.
The White Sox try and salvage a split on their diamond Tuesday before the teams shift to Wrigley Field on Wednesday, and the Pale Hose have the big advantage on the mound behind Chris Sale who goes up against Edwin Jackson for the Cubs. Backing the home team in Game 2 will cost bettors anywhere from -185 to -200 for the privilege, and the MLB odds are listing a 7 to 7.5 run total.
Samardzija twirled a 2-hit gem in the Cubs' 7-0 triumph, striking out eight and walking only two in lowering his ERA to 2.85 (14th among NL pitchers). The first four hitters in the Cubs lineup collected all nine of their hits to back the team's first 9-inning shutout victory since July 23 of last season when Samardzija was also on the hill.
Jackson enters the matchup with just one dubya among his eight decisions this season, and he also has just one win among his five career decisions vs. the White Sox. The righty has been more effective in his five starts on the road (4.26 ERA) than the five assignments at home (7.81), and his lone win against the White Sox did come at US Cellular Field back in 2008 when he was toiling for the Rays.
Sale missed his last turn through the ChiSox rotation due to a sore shoulder, and takes the mound tonight looking to extend three impressive streaks in his first career start vs. the Cubs. The southpaw has not allowed a run in his last 23.2 IP, a string that goes back to the first inning of his May 6 start in Kansas City, and the White Sox have won his last five trips to the mound. Sale also hasn't served up a long ball in nearly 30 frames.
Tim Welke will call balls and strikes for a 12th time this year, but first involving either club from Chicago. His last three plate assignments failed to reach the total to give him a 6-5 O/U mark so far.
Scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast during the day and into the evening with a 50% shot for wet conditions at game time. Muggy temps in the mid-to-low 70s are expected for the first pitch with a 10-12 mph SSE wind (RF corner to 3B).
We just missed our OVER play on Monday, but I'm not afraid to come back in that direction tonight with the same total as Game 1.
My pick: Cubs-White Sox Over 7.5 (+110)
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
We're going to follow all four games this week, beginning at the home of the White Sox on the South Side. The Pale Hose draw the first chalk with a moneyline around -120 on the Monday MLB odds board. Pitted against each other on the mound are Jeff Samardzija for the Cubs and Jose Quintana for the Sox, and a 7.5 run total awaits bettors.
Inner-city bragging rights are essentially all this series means in the standings. Sure, the White Sox are just four games out in the AL Central after climbing to a 24-24 mark with three straight wins. But it's difficult to imagine them or anyone else wresting the division title from the Detroit Tigers. And the Cubs, well, they're the Cubs and only saved from being the worst of the National League this season by the existence of the Miami Marlins.
The White Sox lead the all-time series 49-41, 53-43 if you toss in the 1906 World Series that went to the South Siders, four games to two. The Pale Hose have also won the rivalry the last four years, 4-2 each season, and the last five played at US Cellular field all went into the win column for the ChiSox.
Battle On Mound Holds Promise For Low-Scoring Affair
Samardzija lost his only start against the White Sox, though he pitched well last May at Wrigley Field (7.1 IP, 3 ER). A pair of bombs off the bats of Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham were his undoing in that outing, but the former Notre Dame has limited the opposition to just six homers in nearly 64 innings this season.
He's pitched much better than his 2-6 record would indicate -- the Cubs are 3-7 in his starts -- but a lack of support has contributed to that. Samardzija has gotten all of 28 runs from the Cubs lineup this year, twice losing games by a 1-0 count.
Quintana has emerged to give the White Sox a solid No. 3 in the rotation behind Jake Peavy and Chris Sale, the only issue being he's just beginning to consistently put in 6+ innings of work each start. The southpaw had a no-hitter going into the seventh last Tuesday at home vs. the Red Sox, eventually picking up his first win in nearly a month while the ChiSox won their second straight behind the young Colombian.
Monday will be Quintana's first start against the Cubs, but he has been just about untouchable in three previous interleague starts with just one run allowed in 21.1 IP.
Sale Part of Injury List For Series
Like every team in the majors right now, the White Sox and Cubs are both dealing with some injury concerns. White Sox ace Chris Sale has been off for 10 days with a sore shoulder, but is expecting to make the start in Game 2 on Tuesday. The Pale Hose are also without 2B Beckham, on the DL with a sore left hand, and catcher Tyler Flowers is day-to-day after missing the recent series with the Marlins due to a bad back.
The Cubs are expected to place reliever Kyuji Fujikawa on the DL for a second time this year due to problems in his right forearm, further thinning their bullpen that is already missing Shawn Camp (toe).
Rain and wind could interfere with all four games, beginning Monday when there's a 60% chance of precipitation in the Chicago area. That chance decreases a bit by game time, with forecasters calling for the mid-60s at first pitch with a 10-12 mph breeze from the east (in from left field).
The two lineups rank among the weakest in the big leagues, so these two pitchers are perfectly capable of a 2-1, 3-2 type game. But I'm going against that with a play on the OVER on Monday. You might also be interested in checking out the analysis and free pick for the first of four games between the Phillies and Red Sox on Monday.
My pick: Cubs-White Sox Over 7.5 (+100) at Bet365