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Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Tuesday 8/14, 7:05 CT

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Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs steals third base against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs steals third base against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Reverse standings, for the 2013 No. 1 draft pick:

Team W-L GA* Astros 38-79 -- Rockies 42-71 6 Cubs 45-69 8½ Royals 49-65 12½ Twins 50-65 13 Padres 52-65 14 * games ahead

Barring any miracle run of wins or losses by any of those teams, it looks like the Cubs are pretty well set for the No. 3 pick in next year's draft, although they do have six games remaining with the Rockies (and haven't won a single game in a NL West park this year).

That's what we have to look forward to, although a couple more wins in this series against the Astros wouldn't be bad, either.

This morning, BCB's own ballhawk was over by Wrigley Field and spotted something unusual:

A practice run for tonight's pre-game? Haven't heard anything about this. Practice for this weekend's air show? Guess we'll find out this evening.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Vitters 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, Jackson CF, Barney 2B, Volstad P

Astros lineup:

Greene SS, Altuve 2B, Wallace 3B, Moore 1B, Bogusevic RF, Barnes CF, Martinez LF, Snyder C, Harrell P

At first, I thought that had to be a misprint -- Brett Wallace is a first baseman, right? Turns out he's started several games at third base this month, with Scott Moore at first base. That... doesn't seem real good for the Astros defensively. We'll see what happens. Wallace was originally a third baseman in the minor leagues and played over 200 games there, including 47 this year in Triple-A.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Chris Volstad
Chris Volstad
Cubs
vs. Lucas Harrell
Lucas Harrell
Astros
0-8 W-L 9-8
6.94 ERA 3.97
34 SO 96
20 BB 53
7 HR 10
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Chris Volstad 0-8 11 11 0 0 0 0 58.1 70 47 45 7 20 34 6.94 1.54


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Lucas Harrell 9-8 26 23 1 1 0 0 138.1 134 69 61 10 53 96 3.97 1.35

Progress! Last Thursday's start by Chris Volstad against the Reds was the first of his 11 starts this year that the Cubs did not lose, even though he himself did not get the "win". Better news: he's now put together two solid starts in a row. He last faced the Astros July 10, 2011, but that's largely irrelevant because almost no one who played for Houston in that game is still on the team. Current Astros are 11-for-43 (.256) against him with one home run (backup catcher Chris Snyder).

Lucas Harrell made two relief appearances against the Cubs when he was a member of the White Sox; he's never started against them. Current members of the team have exactly two at-bats vs. Harrell: Luis Valbuena (0-for-1) and Alfonso Soriano (1-for-1). You know what happens when the Cubs face pitchers like this. Clearly, etc. etc. etc.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

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 The Crawfish Boxes.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 8:05, 9:05 and 9:50 p.m. CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section. Also please note: due to some under-the-hood changes, the sidebar box with the game thread links is no longer available. It seems you've found them with no problems, but if you haven't been able to find the overflow threads, click the "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" link under "Sections" on the left sidebar. They're all in there.

Discuss amongst yourselves.