The next battle of the Chicago Civil War begins tonight with the White Sox traveling north to take on the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the first of a two-game series. The White Sox currently hold a 60-58 edge in games between the two teams since Interleague matchups between them began 22 seasons ago.
Neither team is coming in on a roll, with the Cubs having dropped five of seven on a road trip that ended Sunday and the White Sox falling in their last two games of a weekend series with the Yankees. The Cubs are a much better team at home, going 24-11 in games at Wrigley Field this season compared to a 15-21 mark on the road.
The moneyline for this contest has the Chicago White Sox +210 and the Chicago Cubs -240. The over/under for the game has been set at 8.5.
Looking For Consistency
Coming into this contest, the White Sox are four games out of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, having gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. They need to put together a run to have some confidence that they’ll be in the running for the playoff spot after the All-Star break and beyond. Heading to the mound to try to start that run will be right-hander Ivan Nova, who is 3-5 this season with a 6.28 ERA. Nova will be making his sixth career start at Wrigley, having compiled a 3-1 record with a 5.13 ERA in his previous games.
Chicago has a couple of dangerous bats in its lineup that could break out against the Cubs. First baseman Jose Abreu leads the team with 17 home runs, 19 doubles, and 54 RBI, and he’ll need to have a big game if the White Sox are going to be competitive. Shortstop Tim Anderson has played All-Star-caliber ball this season, hitting .315 with 10 home runs, 32 RBI and 35 runs scored. Putting some runs on the board early will be a key for the White Sox to keep the Wrigley crowd out of the game.
Cole Hamels has been red-hot lately. The left-hander has a 0.00 ERA in his last three starts, including a seven-inning performance against Colorado last week in which he allowed just six hits and no runs while striking out nine and walking one. Hamels is 6-2 on the season with a 2.98 ERA, having struck out 83 and walked 30 in 84 2/3 innings of work. He’s 2-1 in five career starts against the White Sox, putting together a 4.32 ERA in those games.
Outside of a 10-run outburst in the finale of their series in Colorado, the Cubs haven’t scored more than three runs in a contest in their last six games. Timely hits have been few and far between, with the only win in a four-game set with the Dodgers coming on Anthony Rizzo‘s two-run, ninth-inning home run off Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen. Rizzo has played well this season, pacing the Cubs in home runs (19) and RBI (51). Chicago has six players with double-digit home run totals, and the ball may be flying out of Wrigley in this series with the Cubs finally getting back to their comfortable confines.
Cubs Take Opener
Hamels has been lights out lately, and it’s hard to see the White Sox changing that in this one. The Cubs are feeling the pressure to get the offense going, with the bad road trip costing the team first place in the National League Central. Look for a big night from the Cubs’ big bats. I’m taking the Cubs -240 in this one.