In Nicholas Castellanos' world, every day is Opening Day.
"Why is today not Opening Day?" Castellanos asked a reporter who pressed him on the issue. "Prove to me that it's not."
The reporter cited the Cubs' record, which is now 67-58, a far cry from when teams open the season at 0-0.
"Well, that's only if you believe your record," Castellanos said. "It's kind of the mentality like, if what has happened is a memory and what's going to happen is a thought, you're taking yourself out of right now. So, in that case, every day is Opening Day."
Whatever day it is, the Cubs will be happy as long as Castellanos keeps hitting.
The 27-year-old will try to keep up his torrid streak when the Cubs host the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night in the second installment of a three-game series. Chicago took the series opener 5-3 behind two home runs from Anthony Rizzo and one from Castellanos, who now has eight long balls in 18 games since the Cubs acquired him from the Detroit Tigers on July 31.
The Cubs have won three games in a row and will try to stretch the streak to four against the Giants.
Meanwhile, San Francisco will try to snap a two-game skid after winning six of the previous seven games.
The Giants will turn to right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (5-6, 4.79 ERA), son of legendary catcher Ivan Rodriguez, in what will be his 21st appearance and 12th start of the season. He is coming off his best performance of the year after tossing seven scoreless innings in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
"He had a very determined look on him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after the outing. "It's been an up and down year for him, especially going back and forth, but he showed tonight what he can do. And we needed it. We had some struggles there in the rotation so that was a real shot in the arm for us."
It will be the first career start against the Cubs for Rodriguez, who tossed three scoreless relief innings in his only other appearance against the team. He walked two and struck out three without giving up a hit.
The Cubs will counter with right-hander Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.21 ERA), who will make his 26th start. Like Rodriguez, Darvish also pitched seven scoreless innings his last time out, striking out 10 in what turned out to be a 7-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Darvish has posted a 2.36 ERA since the All-Star break. He has 57 strikeouts and only two walks in 42 innings since the break.
This will be the third career start against San Francisco for Darvish. He is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his first two meetings.
The Cubs and Giants have split their first four matchups of the season. Chicago has a 16-15 edge in runs scored during the season series.
--Field Level Media
Castellanos a hit as Cubs take on Giants