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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Saturday 9/29, 12:05 CT

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The Cubs go for their fourth win in a row.

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Down to the 2018 season’s last two games, the Cubs still have a magic number of two to win the N.L. Central title. They can accomplish that on their own by defeating the Cardinals the next two days, or perhaps they’ll get some help from the Detroit Tigers in Milwaukee. The Tigers played the Brewers pretty tough Friday night before losing 6-5, and the good news there is that Brewers reliever Josh Hader might not be available Saturday after he threw 22 pitches Friday night. Hader also allowed a home run, the third he’s given up in his last three appearances. Maybe he’s running out of gas.

In other postseason positioning news from Friday, the Yankees clinched home field in the A.L. wild-card game by defeating the Red Sox. The Rockies won and so did the Dodgers, so L.A. still trails Colorado by one game in the N.L. West. The Rockies clinched at least a spot in the wild-card game by winning, while the Dodgers reduced the Cardinals’ elimination number to 1. So... if the Cubs win this afternoon, St. Louis is eliminated from the postseason.

The Cubs’ win Friday was their 50th home victory of 2018. It’s the 19th time since 1901 that a Cubs team has won 50 home games. The franchise record is 58, set in 1910. The 2016 Cubs won 57 games at Wrigley Field.

Just keep winning.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

The Cardinals lineup was not available at posting time. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Cardinals lineup.

Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Miles Mikolas, RHP

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels hasn’t been as good in September as he was in August, though his last start, Monday against the Pirates at Wrigley field, was solid (six innings, two runs, seven strikeouts). Hopefully he’s gotten his August mojo back at just the right time.

He hasn’t faced the Cardinals since June 17, 2016. He threw seven shutout innings against them that day, although a lot of the St. Louis players in that game aren’t on the team anymore. Current Cardinals are hitting .256 (22-for-86) against him. Marcell Ozuna has homered three times off Hamels.

Miles Mikolas has been a revelation for the Cardinals after he spent several years in Japan. He’s been St. Louis’ best and most consistent starter this year. He’s made three starts against the Cubs this year and allowed four runs in 18 total innings. Current Cubs are hitting .250 (19-for-76) against him with one home run (Javier Baez).

Make no mistake, this one’s not going to be easy. But this Cubs team has been quite resilient. Mikolas’ first outing against the Cubs was seven shutout innings; in the other two he’s allowed 12 hits, three walks and four runs in 11 total innings.

Mikolas doesn’t walk many hitters; he has the best walk rate (1.4 per nine innings) of any qualified starter in the major leagues this year. So, the Cubs’ best strategy might be to look to put the ball in play.

Today’s game is on Fox-TV (regional — coverage map). Fox announcers today: Len Kasper and John Smoltz.

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.