More On Forty Years Ago Today: Cubs vs. Padres Preview, Thursday 8/19, 9:05 CT

Ron Santo hugs Kenny Holtzman after his no-hitter on August 19, 1969. photo via www.nwherald.com

If you have not already read it, I commend you to BatCubFan's excellent post about Kenny Holtzman's first no-hitter, thrown 40 years ago today on August 19, 1969. While I wasn't at the game like BatCubFan was, I remember it well and what I remember most was the atmosphere among Cub fans -- both my age (12) and older -- after that game. As BatCubFan wrote, we were "on top of the world". It seemed as if the no-hitter was just another peak in what was going to be "our year".

Obviously, that "year" never happened, and in fact, the Cubs went 15-35 after that game till the end of the season -- something you never, ever in your worst nightmares would have guessed was going to happen on August 19, 1969. The Cubs were eight games ahead of the Mets, had just finished a stretch where they had gone 24-12 (including the 8/19 game), and the Mets were at best treading water; over the same stretch they were 20-17.

Sound familiar? Sound like 2009? OK, not exactly, but right now you have a hot Cardinals team that is 17-7 over its last 24 games and a Cubs team just barely keeping afloat -- 12-12 over the same 24-game stretch.

Each year is different and the comparison to 1969 is only superficial; the Mets started winning because their starting pitching simply would not lose and they had miracle games (example: on September 15, Steve Carlton struck out 19 Mets, then the major league record, but the Mets won because Ron Swoboda hit a pair of two-run homers in the at-bats when he wasn't striking out), and the Cubs simply stopped hitting, overtired because Leo Durocher had no bench to give them any rest. This year's Cardinals team is a more-than-solid team and the 2009 Cubs don't quite have the starting pitching that those Mets did.

And yet. The 1969 NL East race is only one example littered over the four decades since when a team came out of nowhere to make the postseason. And many of those teams -- 1978 Yankees, 1980 Phillies, and yes, even last year's Phillies, who were 3.5 games out with only 16 games remaining, won the World Series?

Is it likely for the 2009 Cubs to do that? No, of course it isn't. I see the numbers and I see who's on this team and if they keep playing like they have the last 10 days, they won't.

And yet. We know this team has talent; we have seen it shine through at times all year. All they need to do is to play the way they are capable for the next seven weeks. Starting tonight. Go Cubs.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Mat Latos
Mat Latos
Padres
7-7 W-L 4-2
4.30 ERA 4.01
130 SO 24
47 BB 12
21 HR 7
vs. SD -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 7-7 21 20 0 0 0 0 111.0 97 59 53 21 47 130 4.30 1.30


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Mat Latos 4-2 6 6 0 0 0 0 33.2 27 15 15 7 12 24 4.01 1.16

Mat Latos is one of the new breed of Padres. He is 21 years old, making his seventh major league start, and his first facing the Cubs.

Rich Harden has been outstanding since the All-Star break: 2-1, 1.95 in six starts. He got rained out of his outing on Sunday and got pushed back to tonight. He has one lifetime start vs. the Padres, May 12 at Wrigley Field, a 6-2 Cubs win. He did give up a HR to Adrian Gonzalez that day, but then again, a lot of good pitchers have given up homers to Gonzalez this year.

Today's game is back on cable only, CSN Chicago and TV4 San Diego. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Padres site Gaslamp Ball.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 10 pm, 11 pm and 11:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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