Game Preview/Thread #-9: Brewers (9-13) v. Cubs (13-15)

Carlos Villanueva, who starts today for the Cubs, was a Brewer as recently as 2010. - Dilip Vishwanat

Take a break from your Madness and watch some baseball on TV with us.

Broadcast information: Today's game can be heard on WTMJ and seen on WGN.

Fun fact: Across Florida and Arizona the NL is a combined 166-190 this spring, and only the Braves (16-11), Rockies (12-10) and Cardinals (12-11) are above .500.

The Brewers have the NL's 14th best spring record at 9-13 but will get a chance for their tenth win today with Yovani Gallardo (7.27 ERA this spring, 3.66/3.94 ERA/FIP in 2012) on the mound for a pretty big spring start for him. Gallardo is making his fourth Brewer appearance and his first since Sunday, when he pitched on short rest and allowed three runs on five hits over two innings.

After missing a spring start with a groin injury, going to the WBC and now pitching on short rest, Gallardo still hasn't thrown 50 pitches in a game this spring. He only has this start and one more before likely getting the ball on Opening Day, so the Brewers need a big step forward in his preparation today. He's also allowed at least one home run in each of his three appearances.

Gallardo faced the Cubs four times a year ago and was very good in three of those games, pitching seven innings or more and allowing two runs or less. In the fourth game he allowed five runs on six hits over six innings, but did record ten strikeouts.

He'll face a familiar foe in longtime Brewer Carlos Villanueva (6.17 ERA this spring, 4.16/4.71 ERA/FIP in 2012). Villanueva is in the first season of the two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Cubs over the winter, and is making his fifth appearance of the spring. He pitched four innings against the Rangers on Sunday and allowed three runs on four hits and three walks.

Villanueva has made at least one start in six of his seven major league seasons, but 2013 is his first real opportunity to work consistently in that role. Sixteen of his 38 appearances as a Blue Jay in 2012 were starts, and he worked a career-high 125.1 innings.

Villanueva throws a high-80's fastball, but will mix it up with a lot of changeups and sliders and some curves. He's never faced the Brewers in a regular season game but was a member of the team from 2006-10.

Here's today's lineup:

Norichika Aoki RF
Logan Schafer CF
Rickie Weeks 2B
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Martin Maldonado C
Khris Davis LF
Blake Lalli 1B
Donnie Murphy SS
Yovani Gallardo P

The weather is a non-factor in Arizona again today, with temperatures in the low 80's expected.

Enjoy the game!

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