Can The Cubs Win Again? Cubs vs. Padres Preview, Thursday 8/19, 1:20 CT

I'm beginning to wonder. Since they beat the Astros in the first game of a road trip on July 26, the Cubs are 4-17. Only a handful of Cubs teams have done as bad or worse over a 21-game stretch.

This includes the 1973 team, which is in some ways a good comp to this year's club. Aging veterans made one last run at a postseason spot -- that year's team actually was in first place for a while -- before having a horrific collapse in the second half. You don't even want to know how bad it got.

Oh, who am I kidding. Of course you want to know. The 1973 team was 48-33 in the first half and eight games ahead in the NL East. They then went 8-31.

That's right -- after losing 10-2 to the Braves on August 16, 1973, the Cubs were 56-64. They did manage to play .500 ball for the rest of that year (21-20) and were 2.5 games out with seven left; losing five of their last seven, they finished fifth in the division. The Mets won it with the worst record ever for a division winner, 82-79.

That 8-31 stretch was matched by the 1999 and 2000 clubs and in 2000, the Cubs went 7-32 over a 39-game stretch from August 11 to September 20.

That may be where we are headed. The Cubs dealt off a number of veterans after 1973 and lost 98 games in 1974, with a 25% attendance drop. This franchise can't afford that -- so we'll see what happens after this season is over.

Oh, and one more thing about today's game: the Cubs have never been swept in a four-game series by the Padres at Wrigley Field (once at Petco in 2006).

Finally, you might have been surprised to see my "no trades are brewing" post in yesterday's preview thread. That was written before the D-Lee news broke, which was just about the time I was getting ready to leave for the ballpark -- I did not have time to change it, and so when it posted at 11:30... it must have looked very odd to all of you. If you were wondering, that's the reason.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. Mat Latos
Mat Latos
4-6 W-L 12-5
5.27 ERA 2.32
63 SO 134
38 BB 39
6 HR 13
vs. SD -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Carlos Zambrano 4-6 32 11 0 0 0 0 70.0 86 45 41 6 38 63 5.27 1.77

2010 - Mat Latos 12-5 22 22 1 1 0 0 135.2 95 36 35 13 39 134 2.32 .99

Mat Latos faced the Cubs for the only time in his career on August 19, 2009; the Cubs hit him pretty hard. This year, he's been one of the better pitchers in the National League. I think you can guess what that means.

Carlos Zambrano threw very well in his last start in St. Louis, posting his first win since April. Lifetime he's 6-2, 2.71 in ten starts against the Padres, but he had an awful 97-pitch, 4.2 inning outing against them on May 22, 2009 in San Diego. Ryan Ludwick is a nemesis -- 7-for-14 with two homers. Z pitching well the rest of the year would be at least one good story we could take out of this misbegotten season.

Today's game is on WGN -- again, no San Diego TV, so the game will not be available on Extra Innings. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Padres site Gaslamp Ball.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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