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Help Pick Your Playoff Opponent Week Thread: Cubs vs. Mets, Monday 9/22, 6:10 CT

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Chicago Cubs
@ New York Mets

Monday, Sep 22, 2008, 6:10 PM CDT
Shea Stadium

Jason Marquis vs Jonathon Niese

Partly cloudy. Winds blowing in from center field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Around 65.

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Strange, isn't it? Here we are with an entire week of "meaningless" games -- at least, meaningless to the Cubs in terms of making the playoffs, since they're already in. 2008 will end up, likely, with the biggest winning margin for a Cubs team since they won the 1929 NL pennant by 10.5 games.

However, there are still some team and personal goals to play for: one more win (or a Phillies loss) clinches home field for the Cubs through the NLCS. Three more wins would give the Cubs their highest win total (97) since 1945; five more would give them their highest win total (99) since 1935, and going 6-1 would bring the Cubs 100 wins for the first time since that '35 season.

For individuals, Derrek Lee (88) and Geovany Soto (86) have outside shots at 100 RBI (at the very least, they should both get to 90, the first time the Cubs would have that since 2004); one more HR for D-Lee and two for Jim Edmonds would give the Cubs six 20-homer men (Edmonds has 19, but one was with the Padres); Aramis Ramirez is seven runs short of 100 runs scored (his career high is 99, set in 2004); if Carlos Zambrano can win his final regular season start that would give the Cubs three 15-game winners for the first time since 1989, and Kerry Wood needs two more saves to move to sixth on the single-season Cub save leader list.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Jason Marquis
J. Marquis
Cubs
vs. Jonathon Niese
J. Niese
Mets
10-9 W-L 1-0
4.39 ERA 4.09
87 SO 9
65 BB 6
14 HR 1
vs. NY -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2008 - Jason Marquis 10-9 27 27 0 0 0 0 160.0 162 81 78 14 65 87 4.39 1.42


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2008 - Jonathon Niese 1-0 2 2 0 0 0 0 11.0 13 5 5 1 6 9 4.09 1.73

When we last saw the Mets, for a brief two-game series in April, they were struggling and the Cubs were on a nice run; in the two-game sweep the Cubs outscored them 15-2 and in the five months since, they have replaced their manager.

So let me get this straight. The Mets are in a struggle to hang on to a playoff spot, and all they have to start tonight is a guy making his third major league start? Jonathon Niese is one of their better prospects, but is not quite 22 years old. He had a rough go in his first start, vs. the Brewers, but then gave up no runs in eight innings nine days ago to the Braves, throwing 116 pitches.

Jason Marquis, a New York area native who still lives there in the offseason, is 4-5, 4.45 in 20 career appearances (13 starts) vs. the Mets, pretty close to his career norms. He hasn't faced them this year, and if you can figure out why he shuts down Carlos Beltran (2-for 17), but lets Luis Castillo (9-for-22) pound him, maybe you can tell him before tonight.

Today's game is on cable outlets in Chicago (CSN) and New York (SNY). Also see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

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 6 pm CT, and the overflow comment threads will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.