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Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Wednesday 4/13, 7:05 CT

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I really don't have a whole lot to say about tonight's game in previewing it, other than the Cubs actually have a starting pitcher who can, you know, start. Which means getting your team to the sixth or seventh inning with a lead, not play like it's a split-squad game early in spring training.

Just sayin'. More about said pitcher (and his opponent, a frequent Cub adversary in recent years) after the jump.

Here are a couple of notes about the Cubs, from their daily media release, quoted in Bruce Miles' blog:

Since the start of the 2010 season, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker and Marlon Byrd rank 1-2-3 in the National League in batting average against left-handed pitching. Soto leads the league with a .370 batting average (44-for-119), followed closely by Baker (.361, 56-for-155) and Byrd (.353, 65-for-184). Soto's .469 on-base percentage vs. lefties since the start of last season is the best in the majors.

Also:

Carlos Zambrano has 14 career wins against the Houston Astros, by far the most of any active pitcher in all of baseball. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang are next closest with 11 wins apiece against the Astros.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Barney 2B, Byrd CF, Ramirez 3B, Baker 1B, Soto C, Soriano LF, Colvin RF, Zambrano P

I like this lineup, although it would be better with Soto third and Byrd sixth.

Astros lineup:

Bourn CF, Sanchez SS, Pence RF, Lee LF, Wallace 1B, Hall 2B, Downs 3B, Towles C, Rodriguez P

J.R. Towles is still around? Who knew?

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
Cubs
vs. Wandy Rodriguez
Wandy Rodriguez
Astros
1-0 W-L 0-1
5.25 ERA 6.55
9 SO 7
6 BB 1
2 HR 0
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Carlos Zambrano 1-0 2 2 0 0 0 0 12.0 12 7 7 2 6 9 5.25 1.50


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Wandy Rodriguez 0-1 2 2 0 0 0 0 11.0 17 8 8 0 1 7 6.55 1.64

These two pitchers have thrown quite a number of games against the other team in tonight's game over the course of their respective careers, but the last time they matched up against each other was July 27, 2009 at Wrigley Field; both threw seven innings and gave up one run, and the Cubs won that one on a walkoff grand slam by Alfonso Soriano in the 13th inning. Seems like a loooong time ago, doesn't it?

Anyway, Carlos Lee is a longtime nemesis of Z's -- 22-for-58 (.379) with six doubles, five HR and seven walks. Jeff Baker (5-for-11, three doubles) and Geovany Soto (5-for-14, a HR) hit Wandy best. Also, Z has hit more home runs (four) in Minute Maid Park than at any other road park.

Today's game is on WGN and my20 in 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 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to rain delays or extra innings, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.