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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Thursday 7/26, 7:10 CT

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Would you have guessed, on June 2, when Mount Lou erupted, that seven and a half weeks later, the Cubs would not only have had the best record in baseball since then, but would be playing at a .674 pace in the last 46 games?

Yeah, me either. The Piniella tirade was, by his own admission, calculated, and whatever motivated it, it sure has motivated the Cubs players. Better yet, since June 22 (the beginning of the White Sox series) the Cubs are 21-7 (.750). Obviously, no team can keep up those paces for long -- but for now, keep up the good work! The Cubs' 53-46 record is, among other things, sixteen games better than they were after 99 games last year (39-60).

And, with the Brewers' 6-5 loss to the Reds this afternoon, the Cubs can cut the NL Central deficit to one game with a win tonight. (The Brewers' loss gives the Cubs a tie with Milwaukee in the loss column, at 46.)

Today's Starting Pitchers
Jason Marquis
J. Marquis
Cubs
vs. Braden Looper
B. Looper
Cardinals
7-5 W-L 7-8
3.92 ERA 5.09
67 SO 50
45 BB 34
14 HR 9
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs
And who better to complete this series vs. the Cardinals than the guy Cardinals fans love to hang a disparaging nickname on. Hey, Cardinal fans: he's 2-0, 1.98 against you this year and 3-0, 2.08 lifetime.

Meanwhile, the Great Braden Looper Experiment is turning into a miserable failure, as might have been predicted for a guy who had started zero major league games before this year. After a decent start (5-2, 2.29 in his first eight starts), Looper is 2-6, 7.79 in his last ten starts. This would be a good day for Jason Kendall to break out of his Cub-slump; he is 5-for-10 lifetime against Looper.

After having yesterday's game available on two national channels, today's is relegated to CLTV in Chicago. It's on EI and at the Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)

MLB.com Gameday (2006 version)

Discuss amongst yourselves.