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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Friday 6/2, 1:20 CT

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The two divisional rivals begin a key series at Wrigley Field.

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Cubs last played, the Brewers have won twice -- Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon -- and so the Cubs open this afternoon's action three games out of first place in the N.L. Central, their biggest deficit of the season (down just two in the loss column, though).

They trail the Cardinals by a game and a half. So the task is clear. Start winning now and begin to make up ground.

This team is capable of doing it. Despite the current losing streak, the Cubs have won seven of their last nine home games, and at last the weather appears to be ready to cooperate with pleasant summer conditions.

To dust off last year's slogan: #LetsGo

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Happ CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Heyward RF, Montero C, Schwarber LF, Russell SS, Lackey P

Cardinals lineup:

Fowler CF, Carpenter 1B, Piscotty RF, Moliina C, Peralta 3B, Diaz SS, DeJong 2B, Sierra LF, Lynn P

John Lackey vs. Lance Lynn

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

John Lackey is smiling in that photo above, but we all know he has his "Angry John Lackey" look and persona. Maybe he needs to put that on for this game, because his last three starts have been putrid: 7.26 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, five home runs in 15⅓ innings.

He did have a good start against the Cardinals earlier this year, April 6 in St. Louis. He allowed three first-inning runs but then settled down and didn't give up anything else over a decent six-inning outing. He also had two hits in the game.

Lackey's opponent that day was today's opponent, Lance Lynn. Lynn gave the Cubs two runs in 5⅓ innings and the Cubs won the game in part because of a monster Kyle Schwarber home run. Ah, memories.

Anyway, Lynn has had a rough go over his last four starts: 4.34 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, six home runs in 23 innings.

So if nothing else, there could be some home runs today. Hopefully more from Cubs hitters than Cardinals hitters.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and St. Louis markets).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

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The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. 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.

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Discuss amongst yourselves.