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Veteran arms pick up Cubs-Sox on MLB.TV

MLB.com

Throw out the ballparks, the histories, the championships, the shared executives, the curses now conquered and all the rest, and the Cubs vs. Red Sox series this weekend in Boston would still qualify as appointment viewing, as the clubs showed in the thrilling series opener. At its core, this is a matchup between the defending champions and one of the teams favored to challenge them this October.

But include all those elements, and Cubs vs. Red Sox becomes so much more. It becomes that rare kind of crossover series that only comes around every so often. Lucky for us, it's here now, continuing today at 4:05 p.m. ET in Boston, where former Red Sox righty John Lackey starts for the Cubs against Steven Wright.

Throw out the ballparks, the histories, the championships, the shared executives, the curses now conquered and all the rest, and the Cubs vs. Red Sox series this weekend in Boston would still qualify as appointment viewing, as the clubs showed in the thrilling series opener. At its core, this is a matchup between the defending champions and one of the teams favored to challenge them this October.

But include all those elements, and Cubs vs. Red Sox becomes so much more. It becomes that rare kind of crossover series that only comes around every so often. Lucky for us, it's here now, continuing today at 4:05 p.m. ET in Boston, where former Red Sox righty John Lackey starts for the Cubs against Steven Wright.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "They are a big, competitive team, and I think coming in, there's going to be a lot of fan hype, and that's going to bring a lot of excitement."

So many of these World Series champion Cubs either began in Boston or stopped there along the way. Lackey, of course, won a World Series with the Sox in 2013 and Chicago last season. Anthony Rizzo was originally drafted by Theo Epstein and the Red Sox, years before the two would reunite and bring a championship to Chicago.

There is just so much history binding these clubs together, especially for teams that have only faced each other a handful of times in the past century. Their next chapter continues today.

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Here's what else to watch for throughout the day (all times ET):

Sleepers atop East: BAL@NYY, 1:05 p.m.

OK, admit it. You didn't have the Orioles and Yankees atop the AL East at the end of April. But that's where these two clubs are, thanks to hot starts almost nobody saw coming. Michael Pineda has been a big part of that for New York, and his quest to harness his dominant stuff continues this afternoon against Baltimore's Ubaldo Jimenez. And if this is anywhere as exciting as the series opener, fans are in for a treat.

Video: BAL@NYY: Jimenez to toe the mound with Pineda

National holiday: NYM@WSH, 1:05 p.m.

The Mets are reeling from injuries and have had trouble scoring runs in the early going, although they did get to Max Scherzer on Friday. The Nationals' offense has been on fire, and they'll send Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 2.89) to the mound on extra rest against Zack Wheeler (1-2, 5.40). Strasburg is 7-3 with a 2.53 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets. 

Video: NYM@WSH: Wheeler, Strasburg to duel in DC

Must-see stuff: CHC@BOS, 4:05 p.m.

Let's just say a little more about this, because Cubs-Red Sox is one of the most intriguing and uncommon matchups in all of sports. Chicago and Boston have faced each other in just four series since the 1918 World Series, which the Red Sox won, 4-2. Think about that: Two of the most iconic franchises in sports. 99 years. 12 regular-season games. Tune in, because who knows when it'll happen again?

Desert rocks: COL@ARI, 8:10 p.m.

These two teams face each other a bit more often: 19 times per year. That said, these are not unimportant games for either club, both of which have surprised early in the NL West. The D-backs and Rockies are battling for the top spot in the division, while favorites like the Dodgers and Giants look up at them. The Rockies are expecting to get Ian Desmond back very soon, though it's unclear whether he'll be ready for this series as he rehabs from a broken left hand.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.