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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Friday 6/26, 7:15 CT

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Call this series "important" or whatever, Cubs/Cardinals baseball is always compelling.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Most of what I wanted to say about this game, and series, I said in the series preview, which I hope you'll check out if you haven't already.

Let's just say that it's great to have a Cubs/Cardinals June series that actually means something for both teams. We haven't had one like that this late in the year since 2009. And we get another one in less than two weeks, as seven of the Cubs' next 13 games are against St. Louis.

Here is your once-a-series reminder about SB Nation's partner daily fantasy game, FanDuel. If you want to participate, here's the link.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Coghlan LF, Castro SS, Baxter RF, Arrieta P, Russell 2B

Dexter Fowler returns to the starting lineup.

Cardinals lineup:

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

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta


Cubs

vs. John Lackey

John Lackey


Cardinals

vs. StL

--

vs. Cubs

Jake Arrieta was awesome in his last start, throwing a four-hit shutout. He was also awesome in his first start of 2015, which was April 8 at Wrigley Field, where he threw seven innings and allowed just three hits and three walks. (Let's not talk about his May 7 outing in St. Louis, which wasn't so good.) Current Cardinals are hitting .211 (28-for-133) against Jake with just one home run (Mark Reynolds), so that's good.

John Lackey was Arrieta's opponent in that May game, and he was very good, allowing just one run and striking out 10. He has not been good in June, posting a 4.85 ERA and 1.385 WHIP in four starts and allowing four home runs in 26 innings. Let's hope that's the Lackey we see tonight.

Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago. For coverage info in other Midwest markets click here (link opens .pdf). In most of the USA this game will also be carried on MLB Network. Check your cable/satellite listings.

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. If you do go there to interact with Cardinals fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2015 Game Thread procedure has changed a bit. Here's how it will work going forward.

You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.