The first scheduled doubleheader at Wrigley Field in 31 years will take place Saturday, and the Chicago Cubs will be facing the same franchise that they did then.
Chicago’s game scheduled for Sunday against the Washington Nationals was moved to Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader after an offseason request by Alderman Tom Tunney, who was concerned about neighborhood traffic and congestion in connection with the city’s annual Pride Parade.
It is the first scheduled twinbill at Wrigley since July 4, 1983, against the Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington in 2005 and became the Nationals. It will also be the first scheduled Sunday off for the Cubs since at least 1943.
Chicago (34-44) has taken the first two in the series after winning 7-2 on Friday to hand the Nationals (41-38) a third straight loss.
Backup catcher John Baker tied a career high and matched his season output with four RBIs for the last-place Cubs, who won for the 21st time in 38 games.
”(The players) have been developing a personality as a team,” manager Rick Renteria said. ”They’re having fun and getting to know each other, doing whatever it takes to play the game (the right way).”
Washington’s Adam LaRoche went 2 for 4 with a solo homer and Anthony Rendon also went 2 for 4. LaRoche has batted .375 over the last eight games, while Rendon is hitting .357 in the past seven.
"We didn’t get it done again today, but we get two (games) tomorrow to think about it,” manager Matt Williams said.
Gio Gonzalez (4-4, 4.38 ERA) gets the ball for Washington in the first game. It will be his third start after missing a month due to shoulder inflammation, and he had his best outing in quite some time Monday.
The left-hander allowed three hits over six innings in a 3-0 win at Milwaukee after going 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA in his previous six starts. He was most encouraged by the fact he threw a season-high 114 pitches.
”It’s a huge accomplishment coming back,” Gonzalez said. ”I wanted to make a statement with the rotation and try to be a part of it.”
Gonzalez’s first two starts against the Cubs came at Wrigley, and he went 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA. His last two matchups were in Washington, where he went 1-0 and didn’t allow a run while giving up five hits and striking out 15 in 14 innings.
Gonzalez will be opposed by Dallas Beeler, who will be called up from Triple-A Iowa to make his major league debut. The right-hander, a 41st-round pick in 2010, was 5-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts for Iowa.
"I think he’s a kid who everybody is looking forward to having an opportunity to show what he can do," Renteria told MLB’s official website.
The Cubs will send Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 2.53) to the mound in the nightcap as he takes on the last team he pitched a complete game against. The right-hander allowed six hits and walked none in an 11-1 home win over Washington on Aug. 19.
Samardzija has gone 0-1 with a 2.50 ERA in his last three outings, and the Cubs are 3-13 when he starts as they’ve given him one or no runs in half of his 16 appearances. He allowed one run over six innings Monday, when Chicago allowed five runs in the ninth of a 6-1 loss to Cincinnati.
His days in a Cubs uniform could be numbered as he’s expected to be one of the top trade targets ahead of next month’s deadline.
”It’s just a distraction and it’s not easy and he’s doing well through all of it,” said teammate Anthony Rizzo, hitting .336 with nine homers and 21 RBIs in his last 29 games.
Washington will recall rookie Blake Treinen (0-3, 2.08) to pitch the second game. The right-hander is in the same boat as Samardzija, receiving five runs of support in his four starts while posting a 2.49 ERA.
Treinen has gone 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts at Syracuse.