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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Tuesday 5/10, 7:05 CT: Rivalry Resumed

Write your own caption. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Write your own caption. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This is one of the best rivalries in sports, the Cubs and the Cardinals. Unlike the Yankees and Red Sox fans, who really seem to hate each other, Cubs and Cardinals fans (for the most part) respect the other team and its fans. I've had lots of good baseball conversations with Cardinals fans at Wrigley. Looking forward to more this week -- and hopefully, a Cubs series win.

Since 2000, the two teams have almost exactly split their games. The Cardinals have won 91, the Cubs 90 in those 11 seasons. The Cubs won the season series last year nine games to six. Also in the years 2000-2009, one of the two clubs made the playoffs every year (Cardinals, 2000-02, 2004-06, and 2009; Cubs, 2003, 2007 and 2008).

The Cardinals are off to an unexpectedly good start. They looked to have some pitching troubles when Adam Wainwright went down during spring training, but his replacement in the rotation, Kyle McClellan, is 5-0. Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse are among the NL ERA leaders.

Even with all of that, the Cubs trail them by only four games. That makes this an important series if the Cubs are going to contend in the Central division.

Oh, and in regard to the suggestion, made in several places, that the Cubs should throw at Ryan Theriot -- why would you do that? Because he made a dumb remark on sports talk radio? You do not want to get into a beanball war with Tony LaRussa, although LaRussa will miss at least the first game of this series. Cubs pitchers watched Theriot for years. They ought to know what gets him out; the man has a .661 OPS this year and four extra-base hits (all doubles). Should be easy enough. That's the best revenge: make him go 0-for-12 this series.

Cubs lineup:

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

Cardinals lineup:

Theriot SS, Rasmus CF, Pujols 1B, Holliday LF, Berkman RF, Molina C, Punto 2B, Descalso 3B, Carpenter P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter
4-1 W-L 0-2
4.23 ERA 4.19
33 SO 33
14 BB 13
4 HR 6
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Carlos Zambrano 4-1 7 7 0 0 0 0 44.2 39 21 21 4 14 33 4.23 1.19

2011 - Chris Carpenter 0-2 7 7 0 0 0 0 43.0 45 23 20 6 13 33 4.19 1.35

After a rough start to 2011, Big Z has had three very good to outstanding outings in his last four starts (2.67 ERA and only five walks in 27 IP in those starts). Last year against the Cardinals, he had a 2.31 ERA in two starts and won them both. Maybe he'll be the one to cool off Lance Berkman -- Berkman is only 11-for-70 (.157) lifetime vs. Z, although with four home runs.

Chris Carpenter is off to a somewhat rough start, with two losses and five no-decisions in his seven starts so far this year. He faced the Cubs five times last year -- that's almost unheard-of in this era. The Cubs defeated him three times in 2010, which is almost impossible given the quality of last year's team. Current Cubs are hitting .283 (60-for-212) against him with six home runs (two from Aramis Ramirez, two from Alfonso Soriano, two from Tyler Colvin).

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Midwest. Outside of the Chicago and St. Louis areas, it will also be on MLB Network. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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 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 extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.