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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Phillies, Monday 7/30, 6:05 CT

It's time.

The last time the Cubs were in first place this late in the season was September 28, 2003, the last day of the regular season that year.

It's time to get back there. And stay there. And to begin that quest, we have an excellent pitching matchup tonight. The Phillies are hot -- they've won 8 of their last 9. The Cubs are still on a great pace -- 11 of their last 16.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
T. Lilly
vs. Cole Hamels
C. Hamels
11-4 W-L 11-5
3.46 ERA 3.63
108 SO 135
32 BB 33
14 HR 22
vs. Phi -- vs. Cubs
It has been almost a year -- August 24, 2006 -- since the Phillies visited Wrigley Field. The Cubs won that game, salvaging the final game of a four-game series. It was their fifty-fourth win of 2006. They come in to this series with one more win than that in 2007. That's how significant a turnaround one year's time can make.

Ted Lilly, who should rate some Cy Young consideration if he keeps pitching this well, beat the Phillies May 13 for the Cubs' only win in the three-game series in Philly this season. It's his only career appearance vs. the Phillies.

Cole Hamels throws baseballs really, really hard. He beat the Cubs on May 11. However, he was the victim of the 11-2 beating the Cubs put on the Phillies in that August 24, 2006 game. Aramis Ramirez and Angel Pagan homered off Hamels that day, and Hamels' 22 HR allowed are tied for 2nd-most in the NL. He's been hit hard by Alfonso Soriano in his career (.313/.353/.938 -- no, that's not a misprint; Soriano is 5-for-16 with a double and 3 HR off Hamels). The Cubs have put their HR-hitting shoes on the last few games, though they still rank 12th in the league.

And besides throwing baseballs hard, in his spare time Hamels cleans up oil spills, has saved a couple of dozen whales, and has been permanently named to the world's Best-Dressed Men list.

The game's on ESPN, so available nationally, and remember, it's an hour earlier than the usual starting time -- will start at 6:05 CT. Also check the Mediacenter. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2006 version)

This game is the only one on the NL schedule today, so the Cubs can pick up ground on everyone. Let's win tonight!

And for the Phillies fan point of view, please visit our SB Nation Phillies site, The Good Phight.

Discuss amongst yourselves.