Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Monday 8/13, 7:05 CT

Write your own caption! Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs can't make a catch against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Well, this ought to be interesting. The Cubs and Astros are 3-3 against each other so far this season -- each sweeping a three-game series in their home park.

Since the two teams last met, the Astros have gone 6-31. That is not a misprint. The Cubs are 15-20 since that series, but are 1-10 in August, having been outscored 55-31. Meanwhile, the Astros have the worst run differential in the major leagues, -150.

The Astros are 40 games under .500. Just two other teams in Houston franchise history have been as many as 40 games under .500 -- last year's team, that finished 56-106, and the 1963 version, then called the Colt 45s, who were 40 games under at 50-90 and 51-91 before finishing 66-96.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are 25 games under .500, their low point of the season. The last time a Cubs team was more than 25 games under .500 was the last day of the 2006 season.

Houston is 11-46 on the road this year, and since they took two of three from the White Sox at the Cell in early June (their only road series win of this season), they are 3-26 in road games (since you'll ask, they won one game in San Francisco, San Diego and Atlanta). So the Cubs, awful as they have been recently, have a pretty good shot at winning, or even sweeping, this series.

It's The Battle Of The Bad. And just wait; if you miss this one, there will be another one coming up October 1-3, the final three games of the 2012 season.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Vitters 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, Jackson CF, Barney 2B, Samardzija P

Astros lineup:

Greene SS, Altuve 2B, Wallace 1B, Pearce RF, Maxwell CF, Castro C, Gonzalez 3B, Martinez LF, Galarraga P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff
Samardzija

Cubs
vs. Armando Galarraga
Armando Galarraga
Astros
7-10 W-L 0-2
4.21 ERA 4.70
130 SO 14
49 BB 14
13 HR 3
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Jeff Samardzija 7-10 24 22 0 0 0 0 132.2 123 64 62 13 49 130 4.21 1.30


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Armando Galarraga 0-2 3 3 0 0 0 0 15.1 15 10 8 3 14 14 4.70 1.89

Since the beginning of July Jeff Samardzija has posted a 2.58 ERA and 1.059 WHIP in seven starts. That's very good, although a couple of the outings in that stretch weren't. His last start, last Wednesday in San Diego, was very good. He had a good start against the Astros May 23 in Houston, although the Cubs lost that game (and got swept). Current Astros are a small-sample-size 5-for-26 against him; no single Astro has more than five career AB against him. In short, who knows?

Armando Galarraga? Really? The last time the Cubs saw him was when he was making two starts against them for the Diamondbacks in 2011 -- in fact, those are the last two times he threw seven innings in any starts, April 6, 2011 at Wrigley Field and April 29, 2011 in Phoenix. Current Cubs are hitting a small-sample-size 11-for-43 against him; three of those hits are home runs by Alfonso Soriano. You might ask why you're seeing him in an Orioles cap above, since he never pitched for them. He was in spring training this season for Baltimore, so he was part of their spring photo-day activities, before he was released by them in early April; there's no good available headshot of him in a Houston cap. He's made three starts for Houston, all of them mediocre; maybe we're not doomed tonight.

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 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 or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section. Also please note: due to some under-the-hood changes, the sidebar box with the game thread links is no longer available. It seems you've found them with no problems, but if you haven't been able to find the overflow threads, click the "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" link under "Sections" on the left sidebar. They're all in there.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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