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Another Winning Streak Starts Today: Cubs vs. Astros Preview, Wednesday 7/29, 1:20 CT

The Astros will face the Cubs this afternoon with a depleted pitching staff. Ex-Cub LaTroy Hawkins, who is already in trouble with MLB for his comments made about the umpiring crew after Monday night's game, will go on the disabled list today with shingles. Much as I don't like Hawkins, I wouldn't wish shingles on him -- it can be extremely painful.

Doug Brocail, who is 42 years old and who had, among others, as teammates his rookie year in San Diego in 1992 Mike Maddux, Tony Gwynn Sr. and Larry Andersen (who is 56 years old), will be recalled to take Hawkins' roster spot. The Astros will also be without Wesley Wright (who likely wouldn't have pitched anyway today after throwing 51 pitches last night), because he was "rushed to the hospital following Tuesday’s win because he was experiencing discomfort in the area around his appendix."

Bruce Miles blogs about the Cubs' continued interest in Pittsburgh's John Grabow and Washington's Joe Beimel as Lou continues to overwork his bullpen for no particular reason:

Worse yet, Lou had to use lefty Sean Marshall for a third straight game, making Marshall doubtful for Wednesday.

A number of us (yes, I hear you, Jessica) have been shouting real loud at Lou about this, but let's try it again: Hey, Lou! Sean Marshall is a starting pitcher. If you have to use him early in a game, why not use him the way Cecil Cooper used Wright last night -- for multiple innings? Marshall can get both LHB and RHB out.

The Cubs have more motivation to keep Houston from scoring today: shut them out and it costs Astros fans money. How? The Astros are discounting tickets for their next home series based on how many runs they score in Chicago:

For every run that the team scores during its July 27 to 30 series on the road against the Chicago Cubs, the team will drop the price on its field box tickets by $1 for the next home stand against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants play at Minute Maid Park Aug. 3 to 5.

So far Astros fans can save $12 per field box ticket. Let's keep it that way. Onward to this afternoon's matchup. (Hat tip to Big League Stew for the link.)

Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells
Randy Wells
vs. Mike Hampton
Mike Hampton
6-4 W-L 6-7
3.10 ERA 4.74
59 SO 64
19 BB 38
8 HR 9
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Randy Wells 6-4 14 14 0 0 0 0 87.0 82 31 30 8 19 59 3.10 1.16

2009 - Mike Hampton 6-7 17 17 0 0 0 0 95.0 101 54 50 9 38 64 4.74 1.46

Randy Wells threw the first six innings vs. the Astros on May 16 at Wrigley Field, giving up no runs but winding up with a no-decision after Kevin Gregg blew the lead -- Sean Marshall got the win when the Cubs came back in the last of the ninth. Wells gave up only four hits in that game, his only career appearance vs. Houston, all singles.

Mike Hampton might have been a Cub had Andy MacPhail been willing to spend as much as the Rockies did when they signed him in 2001. Good thing he didn't -- Hampton's been pretty mediocre since signing that eight-year deal (save one decent year with Atlanta in 2003), which finally expired at the end of last year. The Cubs jumped all over him in the first inning on April 6 in Houston and he's gotten pounded in his last three starts (7.80 ERA). Derrek Lee is only 7-for-31 (.229) vs. Hampton, but three of those hits are homers.

The Cubs are on WGN again today, and also on FSN Houston. For other games today see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Astros site The Crawfish Boxes.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.