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Pregame Thread: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Friday 8/8, 1:20 CT

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St. Louis Cardinals
@ Chicago Cubs

Friday, Aug 8, 2008, 1:20 PM CDT
Wrigley Field

Complete Coverage >

Today is, as you no doubt know, the 20th anniversary of the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field, which, as you also know, was rained out. Shameless promo: if you still don't have a copy of Wrigley Season Ticket, I wrote a long article on the events leading up to the first night game, and the game itself, for that annual. (Order by clicking on the link.) The weather today couldn't be more different from that night. On 8/8/88, at game time it was unbelievably muggy and 99 degrees (and ironically, had they played the 8/8/88 game during the day, they'd have had no problems -- it was dry all day). Today, it'll be in the upper 70's with light winds and bright sunshine.

In yet another manifestation of how bizarre this year's schedule is, today is the first 2008 meeting at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Cardinals -- one of baseball's biggest rivalries. To put this off for 115 games is just ridiculous. Imagine if ESPN's favorite East Coast teams didn't play at Fenway till early August. They'd have been screaming about it since April.

You're likely to see tons of red-clad fans in Chicago all weekend, as both the Red Sox and Cardinals are in town; the White Sox and Cubs are home on the same day nine times this month. The link above gives some reasons for this, and some of the rest of this year's bizarre schedule:

"It's more of a quirk than anything," said Katy Feeney, Major League Baseball's senior vice president for scheduling and club relations.

Feeney said the 2008 schedule has more teams home or away at the same time in New York, the Bay Area and Washington-Baltimore, in addition to Chicago. She pointed to the Democratic and Republic conventions and the Pope's decision to visit Yankee Stadium in New York and Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., as factors behind the unusual schedule.

If those things are true -- then the 2009 schedule ought to be better. Let's hope so. Enough now -- we have an important series this weekend.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
T. Lilly
vs. Braden Looper
B. Looper
11-6 W-L 10-9
4.35 ERA 4.29
129 SO 65
50 BB 32
25 HR 19
vs. Stl -- vs. Cubs

2008 - Ted Lilly 11-6 24 24 0 0 0 0 140.2 139 71 68 25 50 129 4.35 1.34

2008 - Braden Looper 10-9 23 23 1 1 0 0 134.1 151 69 64 19 32 65 4.29 1.36

Those stat lines are pretty similar -- except for the strikeouts; Lilly has nearly twice as many as Looper. Lilly has thrown two good games vs. the Cardinals already this year, and has a win and a no-decision, the ND coming July 5 in the game Kerry Wood blew in the 9th. Lilly allowed a HR by Rick Ankiel, who has missed 11 straight games and may or may not play in this series. Lilly also has to be careful around Albert Pujols (.381/.458/.762, 8-for-21, 2 doubles, 2 HR.

The day before Lilly's game in July, Braden Looper allowed the Cubs only two runs in seven innings, but thanks to Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs won that game anyway, 2-1. They'll have to hit Looper better today to win. Looper's done pretty well vs. the current Cub lineup; only Geovany Soto has done well (small sample size: 3-for-5, a double, a HR). Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee have also homered off Looper.

Today's game is on cable in the Chicago and St. Louis markets. Check your EI listings. Also see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

If you happen to visit the SBN Cardinals site Viva El Birdos during this series, play nice. Larry runs a good site and there are good people over there. I enjoy the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry and though I want the Cubs to win every single game they play vs. St. Louis, there's no need to be nasty about it. Thanks.

Once again, a reminder that you can find the overflow comment threads, including the first pitch thread, on the right sidebar of both the front page and any interior page in the box headed "RECENT STORIES IN GAME THREADS". Today's first pitch thread posts at 1:15 pm CT, and the overflow comment threads will post at 2:15, 3:15 and 3:45 pm CT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.