Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Monday 5/21, 7:05 CT

Write your own caption! Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair reacts after being tagged out by Chicago White Sox infielder Brent Lillibridge at Wrigley Field. Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

The Cubs and White Sox have played 87 games in the regular season since 1997, with three more to go this year. For the first two years of interleague play, there was just one series per year. In 1997, the games were at then-Comiskey Park; in 1998, at Wrigley Field. Since 1999, there has been one three-game series at each ballpark.

With realignment and likely significant schedule changes coming in 2013, I think it's time to cut these down to one series a year. The powers that be disagree; Bud claims he's "working" to keep two "rivalry" series a year. I say, enough already. At least in Chicago, attendance is declining for these games.

Len Kasper wrote something interesting on this topic:

The latest report has the Cubs and White Sox playing four games in the same week -- two at Wrigley Field and two on the South Side. I would be fine with that or just one three-game series at each site in alternating years.

The two-and-two would be OK, I guess, but I'm fine with the one three-game series at alternating sites idea, too. Six was fine for a while. The novelty has worn off.

Oh, yes. The Cubs are facing the Astros tonight.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus rf, Campana cf, Castro ss, LaHair 1b, Soriano lf, Stewart 3b, Cardenas 2b, Hill c, Garza p

So much for changing the top of the lineup, as Dale Sveum said he was going to do.

Astros lineup:

Altuve 2b, Lowrie ss, Buck rf, Lee 1b, Bogusevic cf, Johnson 3b, Martinez lf, Castro c, Norris p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Matt Garza
Matt Garza
Cubs
vs. Bud Norris
Bud Norris
Astros
2-1 W-L 4-1
2.58 ERA 3.58
41 SO 50
16 BB 15
3 HR 6
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Matt Garza 2-1 7 7 0 0 0 0 45.1 31 13 13 3 16 41 2.58 1.04


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Bud Norris 4-1 8 8 0 0 0 0 50.1 46 22 20 6 15 50 3.58 1.21

Matt Garza's only start against the Astros last year was on September 16 at Wrigley Field. He was within one out of a complete-game, 3-1 win when he allowed a two-run homer to Carlos Lee. (Be honest. You thought I was going to say he threw a baseball into the seats. Right?) The Cubs wound up winning the game in 12 innings. Lee is 4-for-13 with two doubles and two HR off Garza. The rest of the current Astros are 4-for-37 (.108) off him, all singles. So the key to tonight's game for Garza is pretty obvious -- get Carlos Lee out.

Bud Norris has improved each of the last two seasons and is off to a good start this year. One of the keys for him is cutting down on his walks. That shouldn't be an issue with the hacktastic Cubs. He pitched twice against the Cubs in 2011, winning one and losing one, allowing seven runs (four earned) in 11⅓ innings. He gave up four home runs in those two starts, but two of them were hit by Aramis Ramirez, who isn't on the team any more, and one by Geovany Soto, who's on the DL. That leaves Alfonso Soriano as the other, so who knows?

Today's game is on CSN Chicago. 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 Crawfish Boxes.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 8:05, 9:05 and 9:50 p.m. CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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