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Game Thread #79: Brewers (42-36) at Cubs (37-38)

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Current Series

4 game series vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field

Milwaukee Brewers
@ Chicago Cubs

Thursday, Jul 2, 2009, 7:05 PM CDT
Wrigley Field

Seth McClung vs Ryan Dempster

Mostly clear. Game time temperature around 75.

Complete Coverage >

Fri 07/03 1:20 PM CDT
Sat 07/04 12:05 PM CDT
Sun 07/05 1:20 PM CDT

Welcome to the only evening installment in a series that's about as important as series get before the All Star Break. The Brewers open play tonight 3.5 games up on the team that was considered by many a prohibitive favorite to win the NL Central before the season, and if they can simply split a four game series at Wrigley, they'll maintain said lead over the Cubs and only have to face the north-siders seven more times, all in September.

It'd be nice to get off to a good start tonight with Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) on the mound. McClung is making just his second start, and hopefully it'll be longer than his first one: McClung was pulled after four innings (77 pitches) while allowing three runs on six hits in a game the Brewers eventually came back to win. He's never started against the Cubs but has made ten relief appearances, going 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings.

McClung will face off against Ryan Dempster (4-5, 4.09 ERA), who is starting against the Brewers for the third time this season. He beat the Brewers on April 12 and lost to them on May 9. Dempster has been having some tough luck lately: despite posting a 3.23 ERA in June, he went 0-2 and the Cubs lost all five of his starts. Last time out he needed 104 pitches to get through five innings, allowing five earned runs on 11 baserunners.

Tonight's lineup is about what you'd expect, given a right-handed pitcher on the mound in the first game of a big series (h/t JS):

2B Craig Counsell
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
CF Mike Cameron
RF Corey Hart
C Jason Kendall
RHP Seth McClung

Since McClung is probably limited to 90-95 pitches tonight, it's probably a good thing the bullpen is pretty fresh:

Carlos Villanueva pitched one inning (18 pitches) last night.
Chris Smith pitched one inning (nine pitches) last night.
Todd Coffey has not pitched since Tuesday.
Mark DiFelice has not pitched since Tuesday.
Mitch Stetter has not pitched since Monday.
Trevor Hoffman has not pitched since Monday.
Chris Narveson last pitched on Sunday.

Finally, tonight is the first game of a Cubs series, so I feel somewhat required to request that anyone stopping by for tonight's game read the Game Thread Guidelines. Conversation during the last Brewers/Cubs series got pretty heated, and I'd rather not let that happen again and ruin anyone's holiday weekend. So, if you're stopping by to complain about Ryan Braun, save it. Similarly, if things are going well for the Brewers tonight, please refrain from heading over to the other BCB to make sure they've noticed. Odds are they have.

It's a holiday weekend, and all I want is a friendly, civil place to discuss this weekend's games. That's not too much to ask for...right?

Thursday's Game Thread is now open.