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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Astros, Saturday 9/24

Twenty-one years ago today, the Cubs clinched their first title of any kind since 1945 -- the NL East title, by defeating the Pirates in Pittsburgh, 4-1.

Yes, I was there.

This September 24 could result in the mathematical elimination of the Cubs from playoff consideration, but it'd be nice if Z could stave it off for another day.

Derrek Lee raised his batting average to .341 yesterday. Since 1936, when Frank Demaree hit .350, only four Cubs have hit over .340 -- Gabby Hartnett, .354 in 1937; Phil Cavarretta, .355 in 1945; Glenn Beckert, .342 in 1971, and Bill Madlock, .354 in 1975.

Also, despite rumors flying in the last couple of days, if Hurricane Rita and its aftermath forces the Cubs/Astros series next weekend out of Houston, it would NOT be played in Chicago, either at the Cell or at Wrigley Field. Instead, it would head for a neutral site, either Kansas City, Atlanta or Cincinnati, most likely Cincinnati, as that's the park most familiar to the Astros as the home of a division rival.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
vs. Ezequiel Astacio
E. Astacio
14-5 W-L 2-6
3.17 ERA 5.76
190 SO 63
82 BB 23
18 HR 22

This was originally to be a marquee pitching matchup between Z and Roger Clemens, but Clemens is being held out with a hamstring injury.

Instead, we get the only major league player ever named Ezequiel as the Cubs' opponent today. Although he is from the same town in the Dominican Republic as Padres starter Pedro Astacio, I do not believe they are related.

Ezequiel has allowed 22 home runs in 75 IP, which would project to about sixty HR in a full season. On the road he's been even worse -- 12 HR in 34 IP and a 7.60 ERA.

Normally, I'd be afraid of jinxing the Cubs by saying this sort of thing, but what the heck, there are eight games left in the season. How bad could it be?

Z needs ten strikeouts for his first 200-strikeout season.

Discuss amongst yourselves.