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Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Sunday 9/26, 1:20 CT: A Winning Month

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The Cubs have never been over .500 this year. In fact, they reached the .500 mark only twice all season: 4-4 and 13-13. Since then, the closest they have been to .500 is two games under at 22-24 and 23-25.

Nevertheless, with yesterday's win the Cubs went to 14-7 in the month of September and, with five games remaining this month, clinched their first winning calendar month since September 2009. They also still have an outside shot at having a winning second half of the season. The first 81 games this year produced a 35-46 record. Since then the Cubs are 35-38; with eight games remaining they'd have to go 6-2 to have a 41-40 second half. That's not likely, but it's still a possibility. It's always better to have a strong finish.

Also, if the Cubs win today they will finish 36-45 at home, which would be their worst home record since the awful 2006 Cubs were also 36-45. The 95-loss 2002 Cubs had the same 36-45 record at Wrigley; the last time a Cubs team was worse than 36-45 at home was in 1999, when that 95-defeat club was 34-47 at Wrigley. The Cubs are currently 35-39 on the road and have a chance to have a better record away from Wrigley than at home; the last time that happened was in 2005 (38-43 at home, 41-40 on the road). If the Cubs go 6-1 on the next road trip, they'd finish 41-40 on the road.

For all of us waiting for Welington Castillo to get a start, we've got it today. Lineup via tweet from Carrie:

#Cubs lineup for Sun, last home game: CF Fuld, SS Castro, 2B DeWitt, 1B Nady, RF Fuke, LF Sori, 3B Scales, C Castillo, P Samardzija
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
Cubs
vs. Jake Westbrook
Jake Westbrook
Cardinals
2-1 W-L 8-11
6.00 ERA 4.37
7 SO 117
13 BB 63
3 HR 20
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Jeff Samardzija 2-1 6 2 0 0 0 0 15.0 14 14 10 3 13 7 6.00 1.80


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Jake Westbrook 2-4 10 10 0 0 0 0 62.0 61 26 26 5 19 44 3.77 1.29

Jake Westbrook started against the Cubs on August 13 in St. Louis; he threw six solid innings and the Cardinals won. Note, the stats in the line above are Westbrook's with the Cardinals only; the numbers in the pitcher box are his full-season stats.

Jeff Samardzija has put himself in the mix for next year's pitching staff -- whether rotation or bullpen -- with two good starts this month, including 5.2 scoreless innings against the Cardinals in St. Louis on September 13. He still gives up way too many walks -- seven in 11.2 innings in those two starts -- but you can see he's making progress. A good outing today would help, not to mention help the Cubs win the series.

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Midwest. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva el Birdos.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT (this time, for sure!), and the overflows will post at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.