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Monday, April 28, 2014
Series preview: Cubs at Reds

By Jesse Rogers

CINCINNATI -- The Chicago Cubs visit the Cincinnati Reds for the first time this season. Here’s a preview.

The series:
Monday, 6:10 p.m.: Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.53 ERA) vs. Alfredo Simon (3-1, 1.30)
Tuesday, 6:10 p.m.: Edwin Jackson (1-2, 5.02) vs. Tony Cingrani (2-2, 2.86)
Wednesday, 6:10 p.m.: Carlos Villanueva (1-4, 10.42) vs. Homer Bailey (1-2, 6.15)

April record: The Cubs close out the first month of the season looking for their first series win. The last time they failed to win at least one series in April was 1997.

Samardzija: Last time on the mound for him, the bullpen blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead as the Cubs lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-5. In doing so, Samardzija became the first pitcher in over 100 years to start the season by throwing five games with seven or more innings pitched while giving up two or fewer runs to not earn at least one victory, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Who’s hot/who’s not: Starlin Castro is coming off a two-homer game in Milwaukee and a weekend full of good at-bats. He was 5-for-12 in the series, and even his outs were hit hard. Meanwhile, Junior Lake had an awful three days against the Brewers. He was 0-for-8 with five strikeouts and made several misplays in the field. His batting average is down to .206.

Jake Arrieta returns: The Cubs starter is done with his rehab stint and should be activated this week. The Cubs haven’t announced when he’ll make his first start of the season. He was slowed by a sore shoulder to start the season.