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Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Sunday 9/11, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs go for the series win on the Worldwide Leader.

Richard Carson/Getty Images

Let's hope the Cubs have better luck in Houston tonight than their NFL counterparts had in the same city this afternoon.

Not long after the Bears game ended, Ryan Braun hit a ninth-inning homer off Kevin Siegrist to give the Brewers a 2-1 win over the Cardinals.

Please note this day, as it's probably the only time any of us will cheer for a Braun home run. The Cardinals loss reduced the Cubs' magic number for clinching the N.L. Central to six. Also, the Mets won Sunday afternoon and took over the second wild card spot from the Cardinals. Good times.

Also, the Nationals defeated the Phillies, so the Cubs' magic number for the best record in the N.L. remained at 14. And, the Pirates, who are rapidly exiting the wild-card race, lost to the Reds -- Cincinnati took three of four. If the Cubs win tonight, the Pirates will be mathematically eliminated from the N.L. Central race.

Still work to be done!

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soler DH, Zobrist LF, Russell SS, Baez 2B, Ross C, Almora RF

Astros lineup:

Springer RF, Bregman DH, Altuve 2B, Correa SS, Gurriel 3B, Gattis C, Rasmus LF, Gonzales 1B, Marisnick CF

Jake Arrieta

vs

Mike Fiers

Jake Arrieta has never faced the Astros, interestingly enough, as his time in the A.L. was just ending as theirs was beginning. Only two current members of the team have ever seen him: Jake Marisnick (1-for-3) and Colby Rasmus (1-for-4). So that tells us very little. Since the All-Star break Jake has interspersed some really good starts with some mediocre ones. Overall since the ASB he has a 3.17 ERA and 0.955 WHIP in nine starts. The WHIP is good, but only because he's not allowing hits (4.98 per nine innings). Walks, which have been a problem for him all year, still are -- in those nine starts, 24 walks, or 3.6 per nine innings. If his command is on, this could be the beginning of a good September for him.

As opposed to Jake vs. the Astros, we are quite familiar with Mike Fiers, who made five starts vs. the Cubs during his time with the Brewers. The last one was May 2, 2015 at Wrigley Field, and he threw six strong innings, striking out 12, the only run a homer by Anthony Rizzo. This year he hasn't been quite as sharp, and since the All-Star break he has a 4.18 ERA and 1.339 WHIP, with eight home runs in 56 innings. That's the Fiers we want to see tonight. Current Cubs are a small-sample-size 12-for-55 (.218) against him, though Rizzo is 6-for-9 with two homers.

Today's game is on ESPN.

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. If you do go there to interact with Astros 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 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.

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.