The Chicago Cubs have never won at Tropicana Field, but their manager has a nice history there. Joe Maddon returns to his former home stadium as his Cubs play a two-game interleague series against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning Tuesday.
Maddon managed the Rays for nine seasons and claimed the American League pennant in 2008 - the year the Cubs made their first visit to Tampa Bay and were swept in a three-game set. The games loom large for both teams, as the Cubs lead the National League Central by 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee and the Rays are trying to preserve their slim hopes in the American League wild card race. Tampa Bay has lost seven of its last 10 to fall five games behind Minnesota for the second wild card and is close to being eliminated from consideration with just 12 contests remaining. The Cubs have won six straight to reduce their magic number to clinch the NL Central to 10.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs LH Mike Montgomery (6-8, 3.57 ERA) vs. Rays RH Chris Archer (9-10, 4.06)
Montgomery rejoins the rotation after one stint out of the bullpen in which he threw two scoreless innings to earn the win against the New York Mets on Thursday. The 28-year-old struggled in his last two starts but was dominant in the previous two, allowing one run over 13 innings. Montgomery is 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA in four games (one start) against the Rays.
Archer is having an rough September, as he has posted a 14.14 ERA while losing all three of his starts this month. The 28-year-old showed signs of getting back on track Wednesday against the New York Yankees, but he allowed three runs and six hits over four-plus innings and failed to record an out in the fifth. Archer, a former Cubs farmhand, is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against Chicago.
1. Cubs C Willson Contreras will be back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension in Sunday’s contest.
2. Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier is 10-for-36 with three homers during an eight-game hitting streak.
3. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant is 10-for-26 with two homers and eight RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Cubs 8, Rays 6