Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Sunday 8/21, 7:05 CT

Write your own caption. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

The Cubs and Cardinals are always a good national TV draw, but I suspect the ESPN moguls wish they hadn't chosen this game. On August 4, when this was announced, the Cardinals were in second place in the NL Central, three games out, and just five games behind the Braves in the wild card race.

Since then, the Cardinals are a pedestrian 7-7, while Milwaukee is 14-2 and Atlanta is 11-4. That's put the Cardinals on the brink of falling out of contention; with the Brewers' win over the Mets this afternoon, St. Louis is now nine games out of first place.

And the Cubs have a chance for a sweep tonight. Oddly enough, the last time the Cubs swept the Cardinals at Wrigley Field was in another bad season, 2006. In fact, the Cubs swept the Cardinals at Wrigley twice that year -- on the season's first weekend, April 7-9, capped by a game-winning grand slam by Michael Barrett, and then in a four-game series from July 27-30. The Cubs went 11-8 against the Cardinals in 2006 -- and St. Louis went on to win the World Series. Go figure.

Enjoy, as it will be the Cubs' last national television appearance of 2011 (unless ESPN picks up one of the midweek games against Milwaukee the last week of the season).

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Barney 2B, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, Johnson LF, Byrd CF, Colvin RF, Soto C, Lopez P

Cardinals lineup:

Schumaker 2b, Freese 3b, Pujols 1b, Holliday lf, Berkman rf, Jay cf, Molina c, Descalso 3b, Westbrook p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Rodrigo Lopez
Rodrigo Lopez
vs. Jake Westbrook
Jake Westbrook
4-3 W-L 9-7
4.66 ERA 4.81
29 SO 77
15 BB 54
7 HR 14
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Rodrigo Lopez 4-3 19 9 0 0 0 0 58.0 67 35 30 7 15 29 4.66 1.41

2011 - Jake Westbrook 9-7 27 25 0 0 0 0 142.1 157 81 76 14 54 77 4.81 1.48

I simply don't understand the decision to start Rodrigo Lopez tonight; his turn could have been skipped and Ryan Dempster could have started. Beyond that, Lopez has been awful against the Cardinals this season. There's this July 30 game, which prompted me to write my blow it up post; then there's this relief appearance on June 5 where he gave up the second of Albert Pujols' two straight walkoff HR. Overall against St. Louis this year, Lopez has an 11.81 ERA and 2.438 WHIP. Why would you do this?

On the other hand, Jake Westbrook hasn't pitched well against the Cubs either this year; the Cubs have won both times Westbrook started against them and he has a 9.72 ERA in those starts. Carlos Pena does particularly well vs. Westbrook: .314 (11-for-35) with six doubles and four home runs.

So maybe this will work out. Based on these performances, expect a 12-11 game.

Today's game is on ESPN. Even though most of today's games are over, here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva el Birdos.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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