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Luckiest Man: Cubs vs. Brewers Preview, Saturday 7/4, 12:05 CT

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"For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans." -- Lou Gehrig

Since today is a special day, this preview will be a bit different than the usual links and briefs about the Cubs. In addition to being Independence day, today is the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous speech at Yankee Stadium; during games this afternoon all MLB teams will honor Gehrig's memory by replaying parts of that speech:

Saturday, Major League Baseball will commemorate the 70th anniversary of Gehrig's famous retirement speech, which he gave on July 4, 1939. Across the nation, in the middle of the seventh inning, the home teams will read the humble words of a dying man in an effort to raise awareness about the disease that took his life.

Gehrig had a marvelous baseball career that, as you likely know, was cut short, as was his life, by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease which now bears his name. The tribute today is part of a MLB campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight this disease, which as of now has no cure (and which also recently took the life of longtime ABC7 Chicago anchorman John Drury).

If you have not read Jonathan Eig's recent biography of Gehrig, the title of which adorns this post, "Luckiest Man", I give it my highest recommendation. Here is my BCB review of the book from November 2005.

Lou Gehrig played in a World Series at Wrigley Field, but before that he made his mark at Wrigley as a high schooler. In 1920 he played in a special "national championship" high school game between his NY school, Commerce High, and Lane Tech in Chicago. He was 17 years old. He hit a titanic grand slam onto Sheffield that landed across the street.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Braden Looper
Braden Looper
Brewers
5-4 W-L 6-4
4.57 ERA 4.90
76 SO 54
31 BB 27
13 HR 17
vs. Mil -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 5-4 13 12 0 0 0 0 67.0 63 38 34 13 31 76 4.57 1.40


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Braden Looper 6-4 16 16 0 0 0 0 90.0 99 55 49 17 27 54 4.90 1.40

Braden Looper has a 2.57 career ERA vs. the Cubs, but most of that was posted in many relief appearances before he became a starter. He and Rich Harden have already faced each other once this year, on April 10 at Miller Park, a boxscore you probably don't really want to look at if you want to keep your blood pressure down. Since that date Looper's ERA has gone steadily up. Kosuke Fukudome is the Cub who hits him best -- 5-for-16 (.313), a double, a HR.

Rich Harden has done well vs. Milwaukee. He had 10 strikeouts in that April 10 game, and no current Brewer has more than two hits off him; overall, members of the Brewers' active roster are 8-for-68 (.118) against him and his record against them is 1-0, 1.50 in three career starts (26 K and 8 BB in 18 innings). His last start vs. the Pirates was excellent... it's time he started building on that.

Today's game will, despite Bud's Dumb Blackout Rules, be on WGN -- so available nationally. It's also on FSN Wisconsin. For other 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 1 pm, 2 pm and 2:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.