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There's No Place Like Home: Cubs vs. Nationals, Tuesday 8/25, 7:05 CT

The Cubs have just completed a stretch of 22 games, 17 of which were on the road and only five at home (it should have been six at home, but the last game vs. Pittsburgh was rained out). The results were... well, bad.

When this all began the Cubs were 54-46, half a game ahead of the Cardinals in first place. They went 8-14 in those 22 games and lost 8.5 games in the standings to St. Louis, because the Cardinals went 16-5 in the same time period.

Neither of those records, I think, reflects how good or bad either team is. The Cubs are better than a .364 team. The Cardinals won't play .762 baseball the rest of the season.

I know some people don't like comparisons to other years and other teams. But I feel compelled to point out that the 2008 Dodgers, on August 29, had just lost eight in a row and were 65-70, 4.5 games out of first place. They went 19-8 the rest of the year and made the postseason, and you know the rest. The 2009 Cubs have already played almost that well for that length of time -- they were 18-9 in July. They have the talent and ability to play like that. They are, admittedly, farther behind than the Dodgers were last year, but they have more time -- 40 games instead of 27. For those who think this is too much ground to make up, I'll give the example of the 2007 Mets, who had a seven-game lead on September 12, with only 17 games remaining in the season. They went 5-12 while the Phillies were going 13-4 and lost the division title by one game. Need more? On September 1, 2007, the Rockies were three games over .500, four games out of first place and five games out of the wild card lead with three teams to jump over. They went 20-7 and won the wild card in a tiebreaker (and the Padres are still waiting for Matt Holliday to touch the plate). That's also less time than the Cubs have left. There's one-quarter of the season -- 40 games -- remaining. That's a lot of time.

And then there's those 1969 Cubs, who had a five-game lead with 24 games remaining. You know how that one ended.

It can happen. It has happened. The Cubs play well at home (35-22, and 10-5 in the last 15 home games), and have the next ten games at home (and 17 of the next 23). It can happen again. Keep the faith. Go Cubs.

Tonight's lineup via Twittermyer:

Theriot, ss; Bradley, rf; Lee, 1b; Ramirez, 3b; Fukudome, cf; Soriano, lf; Soto, c; Fontenot, 2b; Zambrano, p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. Garrett Mock
Garrett Mock
7-4 W-L 2-5
3.35 ERA 5.10
101 SO 40
57 BB 25
8 HR 5
vs. Was -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Carlos Zambrano 7-4 27 20 0 0 0 0 123.2 110 52 46 8 57 101 3.35 1.35

2009 - Garrett Mock 2-5 20 7 0 0 0 1 47.2 62 33 27 5 25 40 5.10 1.83

Garrett Mock faced the Cubs on July 19 in Washington and the results were ugly -- for Mock, that is. Alfonso Soriano homered and Mock gave up eight hits without getting out of the fourth inning. Soriano, Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukudome all had two hits off Mock.

Carlos Zambrano also pitched in the July series in Washington, on July 17, and struggled through 113 pitches in five innings. He gave up only an unearned run, but issued four walks. The bullpen hung on to give Z the win. Adam Dunn has hit seven HR off Z in his career, but has only a .224 average (13-for-58) altogether. Current Nats are hitting .221 (43-for-195) against Z and the only other one who has ever homered off him is Austin Kearns.

The Cubs are on CSN Plus -- "check local listings" as that is CLTV in Chicago, but may not be available in all areas. EI viewers may get the MASN telecast, which can be entertaining with Rob Dibble. For other games today see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball. They seem a little lonely over there.

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

Discuss amongst yourselves.