Cubs Vs. Red Sox At Fenway Park, Interleague Series Preview

A view of the press box during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston you're my home
-- The Standells

In this, the 15th year of interleague play, there are still some ballparks that teams have not visited. The Astros, for example, are playing in Toronto for the first time this weekend. The Dodgers, amazingly enough considering their long history in Brooklyn, have never played at Yankee Stadium (old or new) in interleague matchups; both Dodger/Yankee interleague series have been in Los Angeles. The Dodgers have yet to host the Rays. The Cubs play in the San Francisco Bay area all the time against the Giants, but have never played in Oakland (the Athletics have visited Wrigley Field twice).

But perhaps the most anticipated matchup of 2011's first interleague weekend is the Chicago Cubs' visit to Fenway Park in Boston to face the Red Sox. Much has been made of the fact that this is the Cubs' first time in Fenway in 93 years, since the 1918 World Series. There's even been some recent media hype that the Cubs may have thrown that Series; the author of the book cited in that link, "The Original Curse", pens some interesting history, but doesn't really prove his premise.

Even though the Cubs haven't played in Fenway Park since that World Series, Cubs teams used to play in Boston on a regular basis. The Braves franchise -- which, along with the Cubs is the oldest continuous franchise in the major leagues, both dating from 1876 -- played in Boston until 1952.

Thus, the last time a Cubs team played in Boston was September 14, 1952, a doubleheader split, both games decided by one run, in front of what was likely a disinterested crowd of 3,482. The game tonight will attract a lot more attention than those did and will certainly be attended by more than 10 times as many people. Incidentally, some parts of Braves Field still stand in Boston, now part of Boston University's Nickerson Field, where B.U. played football until 1997; soccer and field hockey games are still played there and the stadium hosts B.U.'s graduation ceremony this Sunday.

Pitching matchups for this series are a bit less interesting than they might have been before 40 percent of both teams' starting rotation went on the disabled list at various times this season:

Friday: Doug Davis vs. Jon Lester
Saturday: Carlos Zambrano vs. Alfredo Aceves
Sunday: Matt Garza vs. Tim Wakefield

The most interesting of those matchups may be Sunday's, conveniently televised nationally on ESPN; recent injuries to John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka have forced Wakefield back into the Red Sox rotation. Garza and Wakefield faced each other as starters five times during Garza's time with the Twins and Rays, and Garza is a villain to Sox fans, for having pitched the Rays past Boston into the World Series in Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS.

All three games get national TV exposure of varying types (all times Eastern).

Friday: 7:10 p.m., WGN, MLB Network
Saturday: 7:10 p.m., Fox-TV (regional)
Sunday: 8:05 p.m, ESPN

Thousands of Cubs fans are expected to invade Boston on what's already a busy weekend in The Hub with many college graduations scheduled. Weather permitting, it should be fun -- and also, important to the season direction of both teams. The Red Sox are riding a six-game winning streak and have sneaked back to within 1.5 games of first place in the AL East after a terrible start; the Cubs just swept the Marlins in a quickie two-game set in Miami.

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