Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Wednesday 10/3, 1:20 CT

David Banks - Getty Images

And so, we have reached the season finale. This season was awful. Yet, we will miss Cubs baseball for five months, until it returns in the sunshine of Arizona next spring.

The Astros have thrown three straight shutouts. That's pretty rare, as I mentioned in the recap, for them; no Houston team had done that in 26 years. Since 1996, only one team has thrown four straight shutouts -- that happened earlier this year, when the Giants did it from June 25-28 over the Dodgers and Reds.

I haven't had a chance to look, but I would think it's a pretty good bet that the Astros are the first 100-loss team to throw three straight shutouts.

The Cubs, of course, are responsible for just two of Houston's three straight blankings, and last scored in the ninth inning Sunday at Arizona, so their scoreless streak stands at 18 innings, far short of the team record of 48, set in 1968. Since defeating the Pirates 13-9 on September 16, the Cubs are 2-13, limping to the finish line of this horrific season.

Appropriately, it's probably going to rain this afternoon.

Cubs lineup:

Campana LF, Cardenas 2B, Castro SS, LaHair 1B, Sappelt RF, Vitters 3B, Jackson CF, Recker C, Wood P

Dale Sveum wasn't kidding last night when he said he'd be giving most of the regulars the day off (Starlin Castro starts so that he can play in all 162 games; last Cub to do that was Juan Pierre in another bad season, 2006). When lineups like this are posted on the last day of the season, weird things tend to happen. Let's hope so. At least that would make this game interesting.

The Astros lineup was not in at the time I wrote this post; please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Astros lineup. In the meantime, here's some other interesting info about today's game from a Houston viewpoint -- this is the final game for the Astros as a National League team, so there's a bit more history being made at Wrigley Field Wednesday afternoon. The Houston NL franchise, then called the Colt .45s, also began its major-league life against the Cubs, in Houston, in an 11-2 win April 10, 1962. The Cubs got swept in that series. It could happen again. Also, there's this:

Today's Starting Pitchers
Travis Wood
Travis Wood
Cubs
vs. Edgar Gonzalez
Edgar Gonzalez
Astros
6-13 W-L 3-1
4.39 ERA 4.15
115 SO 17
49 BB 4
25 HR 2
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Travis Wood 6-13 27 25 0 0 0 0 149.2 130 79 73 25 49 115 4.39 1.20


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Edgar Gonzalez 3-1 5 5 0 0 0 0 21.2 18 10 10 2 4 17 4.15 1.02

Travis Wood has had a decent year for the Cubs, despite the W/L record and high-ish ERA. He posted a 3.34 ERA in six starts in September covering 35 innings, and allowed just two home runs all month. He pitched better for the Cubs than he did for the Reds in 2011, not quite as well as he did in 2010. At age 25, he still has a chance to improve. It would be nice to see him go out on a high note.

Edgar Gonzalez. Edgar Gonzalez. Where have I heard that name before? Oh, yes. He was in spring training with the Cubs this year... oh, wait. Wrong Edgar Gonzalez. That one is Adrian's lookalike older brother, and he's an infielder. This Edgar Gonzalez pitched several years with the Diamondbacks, but hasn't faced the Cubs since May 11, 2008. Current Cubs are 0-for-5 against him (David DeJesus, 0-for-4 and Luis Valbuena, 0-for-1). He's made five starts for the Astros and done reasonably well in most of them. We're probably doomed. (Plus, Gonzalez looks angry in that photo.)

Today's game is on WGN.

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 Astros site The Crawfish Boxes.

Based on some feedback from all of you, I'm going to adjust the way I'm doing game threads -- hopefully, this method will work, starting tonight and for the rest of this season.

You'll see the game preview -- like this one -- as usual, two hours before game time (this one's up a little earlier due to the somewhat-late start, the last late start of the year).

Then, the other discussion threads will post on time schedules as they always have, first pitch thread at game time, overflows at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time. I will create a StoryStream™ for each game where you can find all the discussion threads. For today's game go to this GameStream (as I'm calling them); you'll find the First Pitch Thread there at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the others will post in that stream at 2:20, 3:20 and 4:05 p.m. CDT.

Once the game is over and I write a recap, it will post as a separate story on the front page; I'll have the preview and recap up there as individual stories, but they will also reside in the stream. Hope that makes more sense and makes things easier to find. The game threads can all also be found in the section titled Chicago Cubs Game Threads, which you can find at that link or in the drop-down menu under "Sections" in the middle of the site.

Let me know if this works, or if you have other suggestions.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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