Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Monday 9/10, 7:05 CT

Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano is congratulated by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro after Soriano hit a two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

These two teams last met August 15 at Wrigley Field.

Since then the Cubs are 8-16, and the Astros 5-16.

Yet, both have just completed series wins on the road, the Cubs sweeping the Pirates and the Astros taking two of three from the Reds. The Cubs have won just six games on the road since the All-Star break, five of them in Pittsburgh. Since the All-Star break the Astros are 11-43. During that time they have defeated just two teams more than once: the just-completed Reds series and a series they won at home against the Brewers.

Something's gotta give, and I'm thinking it's the Cubs, since they were swept in their only other visit to Houston this year, back in May. When the Astros completed that sweep on May 23, they were two games under .500, just four games out of first place, and six games ahead of the Cubs. Since then the Astros are 23-73. Yes, that's right, they have played 50 games under .500 for more than four months' worth of games.

I got lots more of this, but I suspect that's enough for you. Wait, there's one last thing. You think no one's watching the Cubs right now? Almost literally no one watched yesterday's Astros game:

Cubs lineup:

Mather CF, Barney 2B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, Vitters 3B, Sappelt RF, Volstad P

Dale Sveum thought bubble: "Hey! Leading Joe Mather off worked yesterday! So I'm doing it again!"

Astros lineup:

Paredes 2B, F. Martinez RF, Wallace 1B, Maxwell CF, Castro C, Dominguez 3B, J. Martinez LF, Greene SS, Keuchel P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Chris Volstad
Chris Volstad
vs. Dallas Keuchel
Dallas Keuchel
2-10 W-L 1-7
6.23 ERA 5.54
48 SO 30
31 BB 31
11 HR 10
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2012 - Chris Volstad 2-10 16 16 0 0 0 0 86.2 102 62 60 11 31 48 6.23 1.53

2012 - Dallas Keuchel 1-7 13 12 1 0 0 0 66.2 70 47 41 10 31 30 5.54 1.52

Chris Volstad faced the Astros August 14 at Wrigley Field. They scored four runs off him in five innings, including a home run by Brett Wallace. Current Astros are hitting .300 (18-for-60) against him; Chris Snyder has also homered off Volstad.

Dallas Keuchel did pretty well in Triple-A this year, so the Astros promoted him to their rotation. (Insert "demoted to Houston" joke here.) He's made 12 starts, and as you can see by those numbers, has not done well at all. He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current Cubs roster. You all know what that means -- doomed. (And sorry for the weird-looking photo of him; it was the only one available to me. He looks angry.)

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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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