Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Cards at Cubs

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With the Cardinals and Cubs about to bring the first half of the season to a close, here’s some things to consider…

On the bump

– Adam Wainwright (9-5, 3.09) toes the rubber for the Cardinals. He
tossed 8 1/3 shutout innings in his last start against the Brewers on
Tuesday. Wainwright has allowed two runs or less in four out of his
last five starts, lowering his ERA from 3.49 to 3.09 in the process. He
has pitched six or more innings in 16 straight starts dating back to
April 11.

– Randy Wells (4-3, 2.48) starts the nightcap for the Cubs. Wells
allowed two runs over six innings in a 4-2 win over the Braves in his
last start on Monday. He has won four consecutive starts, allowing two
runs or less in each of them. This is his first career start against
the Cardinals.

Back in the lineup

– Derrek Lee is back in the lineup after leaving Saturday’s game
with neck spasms. After a .189 April, the 34-year-old first baseman has
rebounded, compiling a .281/.356/.514 line with 17 homers and 56 RBI.

Rookie of the Year?

– After struggling through April and May, Colby Rasmus has asserted
himself as the prohibitive favorite in the National League Rookie of
the Year race. He currently leads all rookies in hits, runs, doubles,
homers and RBI.

All-Stars

– Ted Lilly (9-6, 3.18) is the lone Cubs All-Star while Albert
Pujols (.338, 32 HR, 85 RBI) Yadier Molina (.280, 5 HR, 30 RBI) and
Ryan Franklin (0.82 ERA, 20 saves)will represent the hometown Cardinals.

On the mend

– The Cubs will be without catcher Geovany Soto for about a month. He
was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left oblique strain
on Saturday. Hampered by a shoulder issue in the early going, the 2008
National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slow start, but
regained some pop with six homers in 74 June at-bats. Koyie Hill will
fill in for now.

Fantasy angle

– Aramis Ramirez is 10-for-25 (.400) with a homer, four doubles and four RBI against Wainwright in his career.

Travis d’Arnaud’s position in Wednesday’s box score read “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B”

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The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.

The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.

The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.

Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.