The Cubs and Red Sox are two of baseball's most historic franchises, but their three-game Interleague set starting Monday night is just the teams' fourth regular-season series ever.
In just nine games since 2005, the Red Sox hold a 5-4 game advantage over the Cubs. Monday marks Chicago's first visit to Fenway Park since May 20-22, 2011, which was the Cubs' first trip to the Red Sox's home park since the 1918 World Series. Boston won that series in six games, led by Babe Ruth, who was the winning pitcher in two of the games.
Before 2004, this would have been categorized as a contest between two cursed and woeful teams in desperate search for a ring. But three Boston championships within the last decade have changed the conversation and placed all of that annual frustration explicitly on Chicago.
This year has looked to be more of the same for the last-place Cubs, off the heels of a doubleheader sweep by the Nationals on Saturday. But 2014 has been a struggle for both clubs as the Red Sox are treading water just above last place in the American League East.
Boston will turn to Jake Peavy in the opener after one of his worst outings of the year in Seattle. The Mariners hit the veteran righty for seven runs over five innings, including two home runs.
At 1-6 on the season, Peavy has had a difficult time collecting wins and run support, but he has had success against the Cubs. In his career, mostly with the Padres and White Sox, Peavy is 7-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 14 games against them, striking out 85 in 84 2/3 innings.
But Peavy knows he has to be better regardless of whether his offense is producing.
"We as pitchers got to do a better job of not letting in more than we're scoring," Peavy said. "That's all there is to it. We're a team around here. Nobody's blaming anything on anybody. We've just got to be better as a 25-man unit -- a lot better."
The Cubs will counter with righty Jake Arrieta, trending in the other direction recently. Starting in 10 games since May 3, he's been dominant, especially in June. In five starts, he's allowed just four runs with a 1.14 ERA, winning his last three decisions, which included taking a perfect game into the seventh inning last Wednesday against the Reds.
"I wanted to continue to execute pitches and try to pitch deep in the game," Arrieta said of his game plan. "For the most part, I was down with pretty much everything, commanding the ball where I wanted to and was able to do some good things tonight."
Red Sox: Rookie Betts called up, debuts vs. Yanks
Boston is in desperate need of some energy, not to mention some offense. And that had something to do with adding their hottest prospect to the roster on Saturday.
But manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington both made it clear that Mookie Betts fully earned his first trip to the Major Leagues and he's here because he's ready -- not just because the team is faltering.
"Really, it was mostly about Mookie," said Cherington. "When a guy is performing at the level and doing it the way he's doing it and controlling the strike zone and performing in all different areas of the game, that kind of guy deserves consideration. We happen to have a need for as many good players as we can get, particularly guys that can move around positions, cover different spots. We talked about it for probably two or three days and just decided it was the right time."
Although Betts was not in the lineup for Saturday's game, he made his debut Sunday night, recording his first Major League hit and run scored in Boston's 8-5 win over New York.
Cubs: Sunday a rare day off
Jason Hammel will play golf. Wesley Wright will be able to read the Sunday newspaper at a leisurely pace. Anthony Rizzo will probably have Sunday brunch. Carlos Villanueva most likely will sleep late.
For the first time since the Cubs began playing at Wrigley Field in 1916, they have a scheduled day off on a Sunday during a homestand.
Rather than finish their home series against the Nationals on Sunday, the Cubs played a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. The schedule change was announced in early February at the request of 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney to avoid traffic congestion in the neighborhood because of Sunday's annual Pride Parade.
Saturday's day-night twin bill was the Cubs' first regularly scheduled doubleheader since they played two against the Expos on July 4, 1983.
• Theo Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations and former Red Sox general manager, will not make a homecoming during the trip to Boston.
• Saturday night marked the official halfway point of the regular season. The Red Sox were under .500 through 81 games for the first time since 1997.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.