Triskaidekaphobia: Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Friday 8/13, 7:15 CT

CHICAGO - JUNE 20: Jeff Mathis #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim moves to pick up a ball he knocked down with men on base as Starlin Castro #13 of the Chicago Cubs bats at Wrigley Field on June 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Angels 12-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

That big word in the headline means "fear of the number 13."

Today is Friday the 13th, and for those of you who enjoy discussing superstitious things like this, here are some interesting Cub-related notes on this date.

Playing major league baseball on Friday the 13th is rarer than you might think. Because of the way the 12-month calendar is constructed, there can be a maximum of three Friday the 13ths in any calendar year. There are years when Friday the 13th doesn't occur during the baseball season at all (2009, for example.)

The result is that the Cubs have played only nine games on Friday the 13th in the last ten seasons before this year (2000-2009), and this is the first one in 2010. The team record in those games is 4-5; the last such game was Friday, June 13, 2008 at Toronto, a 3-2 loss. In fact, the Cubs have played two games in Toronto on Friday the 13th -- losing 5-1 on Friday, June 13, 2003.

The last time the Cubs played the Cardinals on a Friday the 13th was exactly 11 years ago today, Friday, August 13, 1999, a 7-1 loss in a season remarkably similar to this one.

Why am I telling you all this? Really. Would you rather hear more about the latest string of losses, or something mildly amusing? (I vote for "mildly amusing.") Incidentally, Starlin Castro, the latest Cub to have uniform #13, is the 10th Cub to wear that number. The others, with the years they wore it: Claude Passeau (1939-47), Hal Manders (1946), Bill Faul (1965-66), Turk Wendell (1993-97), Jeff Fassero (2001-02), Rey Ordonez (2004), Neifi Perez (2004-06), Will Ohman (2006-07), and Andres Blanco (2009). It's not too much of a stretch to say that Castro has already had a better Cub career than any of his #13 predecessors except for Passeau, who is the only Cub to wear #13 in a World Series game. Let's hope that Castro is soon the second.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Thomas Diamond
Thomas Diamond
Cubs
vs. Jake Westbrook
Jake Westbrook
Cardinals
0-2 W-L 6-7
8.00 ERA 4.54
11 SO 89
6 BB 45
0 HR 17
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Thomas Diamond 0-2 2 2 0 0 0 0 9.0 11 8 8 0 6 11 8.00 1.89


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Jake Westbrook 0-0 2 2 0 0 0 0 13.0 10 5 5 2 1 16 3.46 .85

Note: the stats in the line above are Jake Westbrook's with the Cardinals only. The numbers in the pitcher box above are his combined stats with the Cardinals and Indians. There's no headshot available of Westbrook as a Cardinal, yet.

Neither of tonight's starters -- Thomas Diamond or Westbrook -- has faced the team he's going to pitch against today. Westbrook has faced three Cubs in the past: Alfonso Soriano (2-for-15), Marlon Byrd (0-for-3), and Aramis Ramirez (0-for-2). And you're saying, Ramirez? But the others are from Westbrook's AL days. When did he face A-Ram?

Westbrook has been around long enough that he faced A-Ram twice when he was with the Pirates -- on June 16, 2001 (result: flyout) and on June 21, 2003 (result: double play ball). A-Ram may not even play tonight, so this is for amusement value only.

Tonight's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Midwest. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site McCovey Chronicles.

Tonight's first pitch thread will be up at 7:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 8:15 pm, 9:15 pm and 10 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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