Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Tuesday 9/11, 7:05 CT

Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs slides between the legs of Jimmy Paredes of the Houston Astros as he steals second base at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Cubs have won four straight games three times this year, the longest winning streak of 2012. Right now is the third.

The other two were in a three-week period just before and just after the All-Star break. After sweeping the Astros (who else?) at home in a three-game series, the Cubs won the first game of a four-game series in Atlanta. Then they went 3-3 in their next six games, before again winning four straight. After the second four-game streak, the Cubs lost six of ten before winning three in a row, then began a long skein of losing that wound up 8-28... right before the current four-game streak.

All of which is the long way of saying... who knows what to expect tonight? Except another very small crowd. That's pretty much guaranteed.

Cubs lineup:

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

Astros lineup:

Paredes 2B, F.Martinez LF, Wallace 1B, Maxwell CF, Corporan C, Dominguez 3B, Bogusevic RF, Greene SS, Lyles P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Justin Germano
Justin Germano
Cubs
vs. Jordan Lyles
Jordan Lyles
Astros
2-6 W-L 5-11
6.95 ERA 5.55
26 SO 81
10 BB 34
5 HR 20
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Justin Germano 2-6 9 8 0 0 0 0 44.0 55 37 34 5 10 26 6.95 1.48


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Jordan Lyles 3-11 21 21 0 0 0 0 118.1 142 90 73 20 34 81 5.55 1.49

Justin Germano had a pretty good outing and got a win against the Astros August 15 at Wrigley Field. Since then he has made five starts, thrown 18⅔ innings, given up 31 hits and 23 earned runs for an 11.09 ERA. Frankly, James Russell could have done better than that as a starter, and he was awful. Doomed, doomed, doomed.

Despite being in his second major-league season, with 36 starts under his belt, Jordan Lyles is still the seventh-youngest player in the National League -- seven months younger than Starlin Castro. Lyles made his MLB debut against the Cubs May 31, 2011 at Wrigley Field. Look at that boxscore. Of the 14 Cubs who played that day, just three are still with the team: Castro, Darwin Barney and Tony Campana. Lyles faced the Cubs one other time in 2011, but not so far this year. Current Cubs are 3-for-17 against him.

Today's game is on WCIU. This is the last WCIU game of 2012.

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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