Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Friday 9/23, 7:15 CT: And Then There Were Six

In case you think the Cubs are the only team that's had ninth-inning meltdowns this year, check out what the Mets did to the Cardinals on Thursday -- in a game that the Cardinals really, really needed:

- J. Motte relieved O. Dotel - W. Harris walked - N. Evans safe at first on shortstop R. Furcal's fielding error, W. Harris to second - J. Thole flied out to center - J. Pridie hit for J. Satin - J. Pridie walked, W. Harris to third, N. Evans to second - J. Turner hit for M. Acosta - J. Turner walked, W. Harris scored, N. Evans to third, J. Pridie to second - M. Rzepczynski relieved J. Motte - J. Reyes singled to shallow right center, N. Evans scored, J. Pridie to third, J. Turner to second - F. Salas relieved M. Rzepczynski - R. Tejada doubled to left, J. Pridie and J. Turner scored, J. Reyes to third - A. Pagan intentionally walked - D. Wright struck out swinging - W. Harris singled to shallow right, J. Reyes and R. Tejada scored, A. Pagan to third, W. Harris to second on right fielder S. Schumaker's fielding error - N. Evans flied out to right center

That's a six-run inning and the first time the Mets had come back from a four-run deficit in the ninth inning or later since 1973.

Perhaps the Cubs can continue that favor tonight, or maybe even do it before the ninth. Last year, the Cubs went in to San Diego during the season's final week and took three of four, which essentially put the Padres out of the playoffs. Maybe they can do the same to the Cardinals tonight.

There is still a plausible scenario which could result in a three-way tie for the NL wild card; if the Braves go 1-5 (possible, since they have had a bad September and have to play the Phillies), Cardinals go 3-3, and Giants go 5-1 (they're hot right now), all three teams would wind up 89-73. Watch Bud Selig's head explode if that happens! More on three-way ties here (written by me for Baseball Nation). We could have one in the American League, too.

The Cubs still have a couple of things to play for. A 4-2 road trip will finish the season at 89 losses, avoiding a 90-loss year; and any record better than the Pirates over the final six games will clinch fourth place for the Cubs. Hey, it's something.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Barney 2B, LaHair RF, Peña 1B, Soriano LF, Byrd CF, LeMahieu 3B, Hill C, Dempster P

I assume Hill is playing because there's a day game Saturday.

Cardinals lineup:

Jay cf, Punto ss, Pujols 1b, Berkman rf, Freese 3b, Molina c, Schumaker lf, Theriot 2b, Carpenter, p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
vs. Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter
10-13 W-L 10-9
4.63 ERA 3.66
179 SO 3
72 BB 3
21 HR 1
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Ryan Dempster 10-13 33 32 0 0 0 0 190.2 199 101 98 21 72 179 4.63 1.42

2011 - Chris Carpenter 10-9 32 32 3 1 0 0 221.1 236 97 90 16 52 175 3.66 1.30

In another of Mike Quade's misguided "respect the veterans" moves, he is giving Ryan Dempster two more starts, today and the last day of the season next Wednesday, in an attempt to get Dempster to the 200-inning mark for the fourth straight year. On the other hand, after a horrendous April, Dempster has been very good since May 1: a 3.66 ERA and 1.149 WHIP in 26 starts. The team has gone 15-11 in those starts and Dempster has given up just 12 HR in 159⅔ innings. However, he hasn't been so good vs. St. Louis in two starts (both of which are in that post-May 1 time frame): 7.36 ERA, 1.727 WHIP. Let's hope for better results tonight.

In Chris Carpenter's last start against the Cubs, June 5 in St. Louis, he threw nine innings and gave up two runs. He should have lost, but Carlos Marmol decided to throw Ryan Theriot a fastball with two strikes, two out and the lead. Theriot hit a double, tying the game, and ... well, you don't need to hear the rest. Aramis Ramirez is a .368 lifetime hitter vs. Carpenter, and not in a small sample size, either -- 25-for-68 with six doubles and two home runs, but then Ramirez isn't playing tonight. Actually, all current Cubs hit Carpenter pretty well -- .292 (77-for-264) with six home runs.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Midwest. 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 7:15 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 8:15 pm, 9:15 pm and 10 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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