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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Saturday 9/24, 12:05 CT

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The Cubs go for two in a row over their arch-rivals.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

ICYMI late Friday evening, the Nationals lost to the Pirates in 11 innings. That loss clinched home field throughout the National League playoffs for the Cubs.

Here's another fun number the Cubs can pile up this year. Their all-time best run differential is +323, set in 1906. They won't get there, but could get to the second-best all-time.

Currently the Cubs are at +244, and here are the top run differentials in team history (besides 1906):

The Cubs are two victories away from tying the 1935 team at 100, the last time any Cubs team won 100.

Good times. Keep it going.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Russell SS, Heyward RF, Soler LF, Contreras C, Hammel P

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 2B, Piscotty RF, Moss LF, Peralta 3B, Adams 1B, Molina C, Grichuk CF, Diaz SS, Reyes P

Jason Hammel

vs

Alex Reyes

Jason Hammel's last start, against the Reds, was quite good. He had a decent outing September 13 against the Cardinals, throwing 5⅔ innings, allowing six hits and two walks and striking out nine. Hammel's home/road splits are pretty extreme: 1.84 ERA, 0.972 WHIP at Wrigley, 5.33 ERA, 1.395 WHIP in away games. This being a home start -- Hammel has a good chance of success.

The Cardinals recently put Alex Reyes in their rotation and he was really good -- seven shutout innings against the Giants. Before that he entered that September 13 game against the Cubs in St. Louis in relief of Jaime Garcia in the second inning and the Cubs couldn't do anything with him -- 4⅓ innings, one hit, four strikeouts. The key, though, is the six walks the Cubs drew against him. If they can do that today, perhaps some runs will result.

Today's game is on Fox-TV. Here's the coverage map. The Cubs/Cardinals game is Fox's main game and will be seen pretty much everywhere, except in the A.L. markets surrounding Seattle, Houston, Kansas City, Detroit, Baltimore and Boston. Announcers: Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz. A reminder that if this game is not being carried in your market and you have MLB.tv or Extra Innings, you can watch on those services.

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 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.