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Cubs vs. Astros Preview, Saturday 10/2, 6:05 CT: Going For Fourth Place

If the Cubs win their two remaining games, they will finish fourth, ahead of the Astros. They can finish no higher; when the Brewers beat the Reds Friday night, Milwaukee clinched a better record than the Cubs with their 77th win.

Other Saturday notes:

  • The Red Sox and Yankees will play a split doubleheader today because of a rainout last night. The game is still important for playoff positioning; if the Yankees are East champions, they get the #1 seed. Otherwise it'll be the Rays #1 and the Yankees #4. However, here's the quirk to today's schedule: they scheduled game two to begin at 9:05 EDT, not quite five hours after the first game starts at 4:10. The Red Sox and Yankees have played 15 times this year. Only one of those games has lasted less than three hours (2:47) and the average length of a Red Sox/Yankees game this year is 3:28. That means if they play an average length game it'll end at 7:40. I hope game one goes 18 innings.
  • The Padres can tie the Braves for the wild card lead today if they win and the Braves lose. If that happens, the Padres would also be one game behind the Giants for the NL West and the three-way tie is still alive.
  • The Pirates must lose both their remaining games to tie the 1963 Mets for fewest road wins in a 162-game season (17).
  • The Blue Jays must hit 11 home runs in their two remaining games to break the all-time team record -- yes, I know this is very unlikely.
  • Three AL teams -- the Tigers (80-80), the Angels (79-81) and the Athletics (79-81) could all finish exactly at .500. The A's have not been more than five games over .500 or six games under all season. Finishing exactly at .500 would seem appropriate. And if they do that by beating the Mariners twice more, Seattle would lose exactly 100 games.

Go Cubs. I want to see them end the season with a sweep of the Astros. The difference between getting the #9 pick next year and the #11 pick isn't that big a deal.

Tonight's lineup via tweet from Carrie:

#Cubs lineup for Sat vs #Astros: 2B Baker, SS Castro, CF Byrd, 3B Ramy, 1B Nady, LF Soriano, RF Hoffpauir, C Hill, P Zambrano
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. J.A. Happ
J.A. Happ
10-6 W-L 6-3
3.36 ERA 2.77
112 SO 67
66 BB 42
7 HR 7
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Carlos Zambrano 10-6 41 19 0 0 0 0 123.1 116 52 46 7 66 112 3.36 1.48

2010 - J.A. Happ 5-3 12 12 1 1 0 0 69.0 52 25 23 6 30 58 3.00 1.19

Note: Happ's numbers above are with the Astros only; his numbers in the pitcher box are his combined season totals with the Astros and Phillies. Happ has started one game against the Cubs in his career: August 11, 2009 at Wrigley Field, when he was with the Phillies. Seven Cubs who played in that game are no longer with the team, and one more (Angel Guzman) missed the entire 2010 season. That was the famous game where Lou let Carlos Marmol face three straight lefthanded hitters, all of who walked, even though John Grabow was ready to go in the bullpen.

Carlos Zambrano had a not-so-great start in Houston on June 4, but last year he was pretty much lights-out against the Astros: a 1.29 ERA in three starts covering 21 innings (1-0 with two no-decisions). Z has also hit four of his 21 career home runs in Houston (35 total at-bats), the most in any ballpark other than Wrigley Field.

Today's game is on WGN and my20 Houston. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Astros site Crawfish Boxes.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 6 pm CDT and the overflows will post at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.