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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Astros, Thursday 9/13, 7:05 CT

Is anyone besides me worried after the Cardinals completed an 0-7 road trip with a 5-4 loss in Cincinnati this afternoon? They're now 30-44 on the road -- but 39-31 at home, and the Cubs have to go in there tomorrow to play a four-game series, a series in which it's almost imperative for the Cubs to win three of four.

This season is laying out a lot like the 2003 season, with five critical games, including a split doubleheader, vs. St. Louis. The only difference, of course, is that this year the games are in St. Louis instead of at Wrigley Field.

I guess the bottom line is -- just go out and win, tonight and over the weekend, and don't worry about anyone else's results. Incidentally, just so I get it right this time, the Cubs' record since June 2 is 52-40 -- and yes, that still is the best record in the National League since that date. Second is the Rockies at 50-39.

Onward. Minor bit of (mostly meaningless) info: the winner of tonight's game takes the season series (currently 7-7) between the Cubs and Astros.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Steve Trachsel
S. Trachsel
vs. Woody Williams
W. Williams
6-10 W-L 8-14
4.78 ERA 4.93
48 SO 99
71 BB 51
16 HR 30
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs
As long as both of tonight's pitchers have been around -- they have combined for 736 major league starts -- they have faced each other only twice before tonight, on May 17, 2001, and August 8, 2006; on both occasions Williams was a Padre and Trachsel a Met. Each won one of the games -- and this will likely be the last time they'll face each other, because I don't see either of these pitchers in the major leagues in 2008.

Trachsel gets another shot after getting pounded on Sunday in Pittsburgh. If he gets hit hard again, it could be his last major league start. In three lifetime starts at the Juice Box he is 2-0 in 18 IP, with a 3.50 ERA. Brad Ausmus, of all people, is 10-for-21 vs. Trachsel (.476/.593/.810, a double, 2 HR), and he has faced Craig Biggio 59 times (16-for-54, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR, 8 walks).

Williams has had a crappy year, but you wouldn't know it from the four starts he's had against the Cubs (24 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1-1). Jason Kendall is 18-for-38 (.474/.535/.605, two doubles, a HR) vs. Williams, and Aramis Ramirez, still hot, is 14-for-45 (.311/.354/.489, two doubles, two HR). Also watch for Cliff Floyd, who hit a monster HR last night, to tee off (vs. Williams: 11-for-31, .355/.412/.581, a double, 2 HR).

Today's cable-only game is on EI, and at the Mediacenter. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2006 version)

Discuss amongst yourselves.