Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Friday 6/29, 1:20 CT

David Banks-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Cubs open a series against another bad team from their own division Friday afternoon.

The Houston Astros are here.

Who lost 106 games in 2011, a franchise record, and who were supposed to be bottom-feeders along with the Cubs in the NL Central this year.

The Astros swept the Cubs in Houston in May, but that's all part of the reason why the Cubs might actually have a chance to win this series, or even sweep it. The Astros are 23-19 at home this year, but a woeful 9-25 on the road (.265). That road winning percentage is just slightly better than that of the Cubs, who are 10-29 away from Wrigley (.256). On the other hand, the Astros have already won a series in Chicago this year, taking two of three from the White Sox a few weekends ago.

For once, the schedule-maker has favored the Cubs, who had Thursday off. While the Cubs were enjoying their day at leisure, the Astros played a night game in Houston Thursday and arrived very early this morning in Chicago (after blowing a 3-1 ninth-inning lead, giving up six runs, and losing 7-3). That probably means a blowout win for the visitors, but you never know.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, LaHair RF, Clevenger C, Barney 2B, Valbuena 3B, Maholm P

Astros lineup was not in at the time I wrote this post; check the BCB Twitter feed for the lineup.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm
Cubs
vs. Bud Norris
Bud Norris
Astros
4-6 W-L 5-4
5.38 ERA 4.81
49 SO 81
25 BB 28
11 HR 10
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Paul Maholm 4-6 14 14 0 0 0 0 75.1 82 46 45 11 25 49 5.38 1.42


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Bud Norris 5-4 13 13 0 0 0 0 73.0 76 41 39 10 28 81 4.81 1.42

Paul Maholm missed the series in Houston last month; he faced the Astros twice in 2011, posting a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. But that was before the big Houston fire sale; the only Astro against whom Maholm has a significant history is Carlos Lee (14-for-54, but no home runs). Lee appears to have lost much of his power; he's hit only five homers this year. Maybe Maholm can get back on track today.

Bud Norris threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs in Houston on May 21 before the Cubs did their ninth-inning thing and made the score respectable in an 8-4 loss. Current Cubs are 16-for-60 (.267) against Norris with two home runs (Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto). Perhaps we're not doomed today.

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.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 2:20, 3:20 and 4:05 p.m. 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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