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It Was Eleven Years Ago Today: Cubs vs. Astros, Wednesday 5/6, 7:05 CT

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Normally, the 11th anniversary of anything isn't reason to give the occasion a mention. However, eleven years ago today, Kerry Wood struck out 20 Astros at Wrigley Field. I mention this not because of any sentimental attachment to Wood, but because that day was also a Wednesday, and the Cubs are playing the Astros again today (although in Houston, not in Chicago).

In addition to the 20 K's still being the NL record, that game also set the record for most combined K's in a game (30 -- Houston's Shane Reynolds threw one of the better games you'll ever see in a defeat).

If there's any current Cub who might one day strike out 20 in a game, it's tonight's starter, Rich Harden. Harden has 37 strikeouts in 24.2 innings so far this year -- that ranks 9th in the NL, despite the fact that he has thrown eight fewer innings than anyone who has more K's than he does. Harden doesn't qualify to be on the strikeouts per nine innings list (having thrown fewer innings than the Cubs have games played), but if he did, he would be leading not just the NL, but both leagues, with 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings. The Astros aren't a particularly strikeout-prone team -- they rank 12th in the NL in batter K's -- but maybe Harden has saved one of his better games for tonight.

There is, of course, actual news today, most of it via Twittermeyer: the recall of Chad Fox and optioning of Jeff Samardzija, being discussed in this front-page FanShot (scroll down); some more information on Milton Bradley's suspension hearing (not lifted yet, but not enforced yet, either); and tonight's lineup: Soriano, Theriot, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto, Johnson, Hoffpauir (1B), Miles, Harden

I have added the "Walk Watch" box back to the right sidebar. The club record for batter walks in a season is 650, set in 1975. That's a rather strange season to have set such a record: it wasn't a particularly good team (they lost 87 games), and their leader in free passes was Andre Thornton, whose 88 bases on balls ranked ninth in the NL. But, the '75 Cubs did have three players (Thornton, Bill Madlock and Jose Cardenal) with OBA's over .400 and those players ranked 4-5-6 in the NL in that category. That team had horrid pitching (they allowed the most runs in the NL by almost 100), otherwise they might have been a playoff contender, since they finished fourth in the NL in runs scored. Anyway, this year's Cubs have already walked 103 times (3.96 walks per game) and are on pace for 642 walks.

Nick Friedell of ESPN.com has posted an extensive interview with new Cub Bobby Scales in which we learn that, among other things, he used to sell jewelry in the offseason, he loves to golf, and you won't find him on Facebook. He does have his own MLBlog, though it hasn't been updated recently.

Retired ballplayer note: remember that lawsuit filed against Roberto Alomar by his ex-girlfriend alleging he had AIDS? The suit was withdrawn yesterday "with prejudice", which means it cannot be revisited. There was considerable discussion on this site on this lawsuit when it was filed last February, so it seems only fair to post the final resolution.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Mike Hampton
Mike Hampton
Astros
2-1 W-L 1-2
5.11 ERA 4.88
37 SO 22
14 BB 11
5 HR 3
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 2-1 6 5 0 0 0 0 24.2 21 15 14 5 14 37 5.11 1.42


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Mike Hampton 1-2 5 5 0 0 0 0 27.2 29 16 15 3 11 22 4.88 1.45

Mike Hampton? Is he still in the League? (Bonus points for the source of that paraphrase.) Hampton is 9-4, 2.98 in 23 lifetime appearances (19 starts) against the Cubs. Sounds pretty good, right? All of those appearances were before Hampton got hurt and missed most of three years. He hasn't faced the Cubs since October 1, 2004, the day the Cubs were mathematically eliminated from that year's wild card race. Only Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (both of whom went 0-for-4 that day) are still Cubs from players who were in that game. And, I love fun stuff like this: Hampton was a September callup at age 20 for the 1993 Seattle Mariners. Among his teammates was Tim Leary, who retired 15 years ago and turned 50 last December. Surprisingly enough, there are two other still-active players from that '93 Mariners team -- Ken Griffey, Jr. and Omar Vizquel.

Rich Harden has faced the Astros only once in his career -- on August 5, 2008 at Wrigley Field. He struck out 8, but also gave up an unsightly 8 hits in 5.2 innings, and two homers. One of those HR was to Ty Wigginton, who's no longer with Houston; the other was to Geoff Blum, who's still there. The Cubs won that game 11-7; they had to come from behind on an Alfonso Soriano HR after Bob Howry had blown the lead.

Cable only again today: CSN Chicago and FSN Houston. If you are outside Chicago and have both feeds on EI, make sure you watch the Cubs feed. The Houston announcers are pretty bad. For more games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

To discuss with Astros fans, visit our SBN Astros site The Crawfish Boxes.

Discuss amongst yourselves.