Let's Try This "Winning" Thing Again: Cubs vs. Nationals Preview, Wednesday 8/26, 7:05 CT

I know you don't want to keep hearing me talk about what other teams, many of which are better than this year's Cubs, have done in past years to overcome huge deficits to make the postseason.

But I am an optimist by nature and so I'm going to anyway. Is it likely the Cubs will replicate what these other teams did? No. Is it impossible? As of today, with 39 games left in the season, also no.

The largest blown lead in major league history was by the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers, who led by 13 games on August 11, with 47 games remaining. That's a lot of time, though not much more than the Cubs have left now. But that Dodger team also had a six-game lead with 15 left, and wound up tied with the Giants and lost the famous three-game playoff when Bobby Thomson hit "The Shot Heard Round The World".

You've certainly all heard about the 1964 Phillies, who had a 6.5 game lead with 12 games left, then lost ten in a row, including 1-0 to the Reds on September 21 on a steal of home and a 12-inning loss to the Reds on September 25. If they win those two games, they win the pennant, since they won their last two games of the season to finish one game out. The Cardinals, who won that pennant, had to fight off three other teams to win it.

Another example of a huge turnaround was the 1978 Red Sox, who on August 30 won the first game of a doubleheader to go seven games up on the Yankees. They then went 3-14 and trailed by 3.5 games -- losing 10.5 games in little more than three weeks. (Sound familiar?) They had to win eight games in a row the last week of September just to tie and force the playoff game, which they also lost.

And in one of the most bizarre playoff races ever, in an admittedly weaker division than the NL Central is now, on August 30, 1973 the Mets were ten games under .500, 6.5 games out of first place and behind five other teams, in last place. They went 21-8 and won the NL East and took the A's to seven games before losing the World Series.

I say again, just so everyone's clear: is a Cubs miracle likely? Of course not. But until the numbers turn decisively against the Cubs, I will retain hope. They had better start playing better baseball, though. Tonight. Weather permitting.

Meanwhile, lineup for tonight via Twittermyer:

Theriot, ss; Bradley, rf; Lee, 1b; Ramirez, 3b; Fukudome, cf; Soriano, lf; Baker, 2b; Hill, c; Harden, p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Livan Hernandez
Livan Hernandez
Nationals
8-7 W-L 7-8
4.04 ERA 5.47
138 SO 75
50 BB 51
21 HR 16
vs. Was -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 8-7 22 21 0 0 0 0 118.0 98 59 53 21 50 138 4.04 1.25


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Livan Hernandez 7-8 24 23 1 0 0 0 135.0 164 83 82 16 51 75 5.47 1.59

Livan Hernandez was released by the Mets last Thursday and signed yesterday by the Nats. It's his second stint in a Washington uniform; he was one of their better pitchers in 2005, their first year in DC, when he made the All-Star team; he stayed there till mid-season 2006, when he was traded to the Diamondbacks -- for Matt Chico and yesterday's starter, Garrett Mock. He was pretty bad for the Mets this year, and the last time he faced the Cubs in a regular season game was July 22, 2006 in Washington. Boxscore for amusement value only. Aramis Ramirez is 10-for-26 (.385) against him with 4 doubles and 3 HR.

Rich Harden beat the Nats in DC on July 16; he was outstanding, giving up only three hits and an unearned run. In seven starts since the All-Star break Rich is 3-1, 1.64 with 55 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 44 innings. No National has more than eight AB vs. Rich and the only one who's hit him well is Nyjer Morgan (4-for-7).

The Cubs are on CSN again tonight; this time they get the main CSN channel. 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 Nationals site Federal Baseball. They still seem a little lonely over there.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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