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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Sunday 5/6, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs need this win to salvage one of the three-game series in St. Louis.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs have lost four in a row after winning five straight. Oddity: They also did this last June, taking five in a row from the Cardinals and Marlins, then losing four in a row, one to the Marlins, three to the Rockies.

After that four-game losing streak, the 2017 Cubs alternated wins and losses over their next six games, then won three in a row, so won six of their next nine. I think we’d take that right now.

Notes:

  • Jon Lester is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA (10 ER/51⅓ IP) in his last eight starts against the Cardinals dating to Sept. 14, 2016, and in six career starts at Busch Stadium he is 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA (7 ER/38⅔ IP). The 1.63 ERA is the lowest career ERA at Busch Stadium for any active starting pitcher (minimum six starts). More on Lester below.
  • Cubs pinch-hitters are batting .351 (13-for-37) with a homer and 10 RBI this season … the .351 average is second-highest among any team’s pinch-hitters (Blue Jays, .389) while the 10 RBI are tied for the major league lead with the Dodgers.
  • Kris Bryant has hit safely in his last five games, collecting two doubles, a triple and a home run in that span. Bryant has averaged 6.67 plate appearances per strikeout thus far, improving on his 5.20 mark in 2017. He averaged 4.54 plate appearances per strikeout in 2016 and produced a 3.27 mark in his rookie season in 2015.
  • The Cubs’ last 11 home runs, dating to April 22, have all been solo shots. The previous time any Cubs team hit at least 11 straight solo homers during a stretch in which the team belted 15-consecutive solo shots, May 26-June 11, 2009.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Willson Contreras leading off. Well, why not? Try something different.

Cardinals lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Michael Wacha, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester has a 1.45 ERA and 0.911 WHIP over his last three starts. That includes a solid six-inning outing against the Cardinals April 19 at Wrigley Field: six innings, two hits, one walk, one run (no earned runs), seven strikeouts. After a bit of a rough beginning to this season, Lester has looked very good, almost vintage 2016. The Cardinals are one of his favorite opponents: 2.16 ERA, 1.042 WHIP in 15 career starts.

Michael Wacha has made six starts this year, and like Lester, his last three look very good: 2.04 ERA, 1.189 WHIP. Two of those three were against bad teams (Reds, White Sox), so take that for what it’s worth.

Last year the Cubs pounded him hard: 7.77 ERA, 1.591 WHIP in four starts, with five home runs in 22 innings. Current Cubs are hitting .315 (47-for-149) against him with 10 home runs,, three by Anthony Rizzo, who is 18-for-38 (.474) against Wacha.

More of that tonight, please.

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 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 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. 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.