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Cubs vs. Astros Preview, Tuesday 9/7, 7:05 CT: Honoring Billy

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Always classy, Sweet Swingin' Billy Williams will be honored by the Cubs today.
Always classy, Sweet Swingin' Billy Williams will be honored by the Cubs today.

Tonight at 5:30, the Cubs will have a ceremony at the corner of Addison & Sheffield to dedicate the new Billy Williams statue that will be unveiled there at that time.

Billy is in retirement as quiet and dignified a man as he was when he played for the Cubs, so perhaps those of you who never saw him play don't realize what a great player he was. He held the National League record for consecutive games played at 1117 until it was broken by Steve Garvey -- and Billy could have played more games in a row, too. He held himself out of the game on September 3, 1970 to break the streak; he felt it had gotten to be too much for him. Then he played in the rest of the games that year (26) and the first 58 of 1971 before resting -- 84 more games. In addition, the streak had begun on September 22, 1963. The day before, Billy had been held out of a game against Hall of Famer Warren Spahn; he played in the 155 games that year prior to that date and the last 11 of 1962.

So if not for that one day's rest in 1963, Billy's consecutive game streak would have dated back to September 19, 1962 and been 1283 games -- longer than Garvey's.

But the streak isn't why we celebrate Billy's great career. It's the consistent outfield play, the home runs he hit, his steady quiet leadership and the 31 years he spent in a Cubs uniform as player and coach, over 5,000 games -- more than any other person.

For more about Billy's life and career, check out the profile I wrote about him in the "Top 100 Cubs" series, three years ago. And celebrate the life of one of the greatest Cubs ever as he gets the honor of a statue outside Wrigley Field today.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Silva
Carlos Silva
Cubs
vs. Nelson Figueroa
Nelson Figueroa
Astros
10-5 W-L 4-2
3.92 ERA 2.83
76 SO 42
23 BB 21
10 HR 5
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Carlos Silva 10-5 20 20 0 0 0 0 108.0 111 49 47 10 23 76 3.92 1.24


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Nelson Figueroa 2-1 12 4 0 0 0 0 34.1 28 11 9 4 12 27 2.36 1.17

Nelson Figueroa started the season with the Phillies and wound up with Houston on a waiver claim in July. The numbers above are with Houston only; the numbers in the pitcher box above that are his full-season numbers. He threw two innings of relief against the Cubs on July 26 at Wrigley Field; the one run he allowed was ... a home run to Ryan Theriot. (Well, someone had to.) Last year he started and won a game against the Cubs while he was with the Mets. Aramis Ramirez, who many not even play today, is the only Cub who really hits him well (6-for-16, two HR), although Blake DeWitt has gone 3-for-3 with a HR. (And no, there don't seem to be any good headshots of Figueroa in an Astros cap available.)

Carlos Silva returns from the DL, where he went with heart problems; he's making his first start since throwing only 15 pitches on August 1 vs. the Rockies, when the heart trouble was diagnosed. He was the starting pitcher in that July 26 game against the Astros and threw five good innings. He was mostly good in the first half of the season and will be looking to finish up strong in the four or five starts he has left. Houston's Carlos Lee has gone 10-for-33 (.303) against Silva. No other current Astro has more than 10 AB against him.

Lineup via tweet from Carrie:

#Cubs lineup vs #Astros for Tues: RF Fuke, 2B DeWitt, CF Byrd, 1B Hoffpauir, LF Colvin, 3B Baker, C Hill, SS Barney, P Silva

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Houston. 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 Astros site Crawfish Boxes.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.