Chicago Cubs ready to tackle new-look Padres on the road


The Chicago Cubs, winners of six-straight during their last home stand, will hit the road to take on the San Diego Padres this week at PETCO Park, seeking to show they can be just as effective on the road as they’ve been at Wrigley Field this season.

At the Friendly Confines, Chicago is 13-8, due largely in-part to the recent seven-game stint in which the team won six of seven, while an even .500 (8-8) on the road. Both Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta have his their stride of-late, both turning in dominant outings their last time out.

San Diego (19-20), meanwhile, took two-of-three when the clubs did battle at Wrigley in mid-April. Right-hander James Shields (5-0, 3.91) will take the ball for the Friars in Tuesday’s opening tilt, which will be broadcast in the Chicagoland area on WGN. He will be opposed by veteran righty Jason Hammel (3-1, 3.11), who has been solid all year-long for the Cubs.

The Chicago offense has been a bright spot early this season, with three players posting an OBP over .400 in the likes of Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Fowler ranks fourth in the National League with nine stolen bases while Rizzo has been a surprise on the base paths, as well, swiping eight bags in 30 games.

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Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0, 0.00) will make his 2015 debut for Chicago on Wednesday night, starting opposite Tyson Ross (2-3, 3.94). Last season, the Japanese left-hander went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for Chicago and after working through his Minor League rehab assignment, will fill a spot in the rotation moving forward.

That spot opened up after Cubs management opted to move Travis Wood to the bullpen, hopefully solidifying things for a relief corps that has been spotty of late.

In the finale on Thursday night, sophomore right-hander Kyle Hendricks will square off against a yet-to-be determined Padres starter. It’s been an up-and-downyear for the righty, but Joe Maddon has remained an adamant supporter of the youngster, who was lights-out last season in his rookie campaign.

For Chicago, the start marks the beginning of a road trip that includes stops in San Diego and Arizona before the club returns home to take on the Washington Nationals next Monday. If this team wants to keep on the heels of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals, a strong road trip is absolutely necessary – starting this week against the Padres.