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Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Sunday 8/31, 1:15 CT

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Despite the horrific loss in Game 2 of the doubleheader Saturday, the Cubs still have a chance to get out of St. Louis with a series win Sunday.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

This little bit of Cubs history is thanks to a suggestion by Erik Peterson.

Thanks to Saturday's doubleheader, the Cubs are starting lefthanders in three consecutive games (Felix Doubront and Tsuyoshi Wada in the doubleheader, Travis Wood this afternoon). Erik wondered if the Cubs had done that recently, or ever, as the Cubs haven't had a huge number of lefthanded starters, period, and managers usually like splitting them up with a righthander in between.

Here's what I found, and it's by no means a definitive answer. In 2007, the Cubs had 87 games started by lefthanders -- Ted Lilly, Sean Marshall and Rich Hill. That's by far the most starts by lefthanders for any Cubs team since at least 1950. Today's start by Wood will be the 37th start by a Cubs lefty this year. It's the second time Wada and Wood have gone back-to-back; the first time was earlier this week, as Wada started last Sunday against the Orioles and Wood, after an off day, Tuesday against the Reds.

In 2007 there was just one occasion on which Lilly, Marshall and Hill went back-to-back-to-back, interestingly enough, also against the Cardinals, August 17, 18 and 20 (August 19 was rained out and made up September 10). The Cubs won two of those three games, played at Wrigley Field.

It would be way too time-consuming to check other years, but I believe something like this would be exceedingly rare, especially since over the years the Cubs haven't had all that many lefty starters to begin with, and only infrequently more than one in their rotation at a time. This is probably a one-off occurrence caused by Saturday's doubleheader which won't be repeated. With the team possibly going to a six-man rotation in September (hinted in a recent radio interview with Jed Hoyer), the rotation could be switched around after Thursday's off day.

Cubs lineup:

Coghlan LF, Baez 2B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Alcantara CF, Watkins RF, Valaika 1B, Baker C, Wood P

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 3B, Grichuk RF, Holliday LF, Peralta SS, Molina C, Jay CF, Wong 2B, Descalso 1B, Lackey P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. John Lackey

John Lackey


Cardinals

vs. StL

--

vs. Cubs

Travis Wood was very, very good in his last start, throwing six shutout innings. He has a 2.70 ERA and 1.157 WHIP in his last four starts -- good numbers which, if he can keep them up for the rest of the year, would be a good sign for 2015.

Wood has made three starts against the Cardinals this year and the Cubs have won all three. You don't really want to know his season ERA vs. St. Louis, though. (Hint: one of the wins was that 17-5 blowout win in St. Louis May 12.) One of Wood's three homers this year came against the Cardinals (off Joe Kelly, since traded) July 25 at Wrigley Field.

John Lackey has pitched one game in his career against the Cubs. The boxscore from that game should amuse you. Besides Lackey, there are just three players who were in that game who are still active: Aramis Ramirez, Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Molina.

So much for ancient history. Lackey is having a pretty good year, though he's been "meh" in five Cardinals starts since being acquired from the Red Sox (three good ones, one mediocre outing, one bad start). He has faced just two players on the Cubs active roster: Anthony Rizzo (0-for-1) and Luis Valbuena (0-for-5).

In short, once again, who knows?

Today's game is on WGN.

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.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.