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The Cubs are going for the sweep, and for their third straight win against a lefty starter, which is saying something.

Alfonso Soriano gets the day off, which strikes me as odd, given that the Cubs face a lefty. Why not rest him against a righty? I am assuming the knee must have really been bothering him (because a trade, right now, is not a reasonable assumption (though always possible)).

Game Info

Houston Astros (32-46) at Chicago Cubs (28-49), 1:20pm CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Wandy Rodriguez (6-5, 3.52 ERA, 1.261 WHIP)

versus

Travis Wood (2-3, 3.54 ERA, 1.200 WHIP)

Houston Astros Lineup

1. Jose Altuve, 2B

2. Jed Lowrie, SS

3. Carlos Lee, 1B (but he could be gone to the Dodgers by game time)

4. J.D. Martinez, LF

5. Chris Johnson, 3B

6. Brian Bogusevic, CF

7. Matt Downs, RF

8. Jason Castro, C

9. Wandy Rodriguez, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Reed Johnson, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Jeff Baker, RF

5. Geovany Soto, C

6. Joe Mather, LF

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. Luis Valbuena, 3B

9. Travis Wood, P

  • nkniacc13

    I just don’t get this line up. But Go Cubs

    • rcleven

      Only got two hits out our left handed line up and their both in the line up today. All we can do is cheer on the right handed line up today.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    I take it Baker is in RF? I know, it’s almost second nature to pencil .him at first pre-Rizzo

  • Falselife

    Curious to see how the dual first basemen approach works. Just might be what this team is missing. Rizzo’s range must be remarkable.

    • willis

      That is hilarious…

    • chirogerg

      don’t worry. I heard somewhere that he can’t shoot lasers out of his eyes, but I still think he can fly

  • willis

    Yeah it’s a throwaway lineup. Which confuses me when going for a sweep against a division opponent. Horrible season and all, the goal is still to win and especially win against your division. Who knows maybe it’ll prove to be an effective lineup today, but I doubt it highly.

  • Tommy

    Jeff Baker batting cleanup seems odd. I wonder if he’s got some kind of lifetime key on Rodriguez or something. Any idea on that, Brett?

  • http://bleachernation Allen

    Soriano 4-38 againt Wandy. Im guessing thats the reason for the day off

    • @cubsfantroy

      And in this heat with his bad knees, he needs a day off at least once a week.

  • TonyP

    Castro and Rabbit are All-Stars

  • rcleven

    Doug Padilla ‏@ESPNChiCubs

    Starlin Castro is an All-Star. Bryan LaHair gets in too. Great story.
    Expand

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    I guess somebody has to rep the Cubs.

  • TonyP

    Lahair is an All-star but can’t get in the line-up everyday on the worst team in baseball?????????  :-(

  • Cubs1967

    lahiar is an all-star. hey hey ! holy cow! now someone tell svuem all-stars don’t get platooned…….let’s see what he can do………it DOESN”T matter…..this team is gonna lose 100 plus games eitherway.

    • @cubsfantroy

      I love your optimism. Hey, the Cardinals are looking for fans, why don’t you head over that way?

      • Cubs1967

        hey i’ve been a fan since the 1970’s………how bout U?……….yeah-i figured. what’s the proper phrase here: Ur missing Nickeledeon right now; Spongebob marathon on; go to your room kid.

        p.s. can you even count to 100?

        • Carew

          Spongebob is one of the greatest shows of all-time

          • calicubsfan007

            Carew: Ba-zing! Can’t have enough sponge in your life!

            • Carew

              Calicubsfan, you’re cool. I like you

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “now someone tell svuem all-stars don’t get platooned”

      Guys who cannot hit left-handed pitching do.  And your logic is reversed: it’s pretty rare for guys who are platooned to go to the All-Star game.  Indeed, LaHair should thank Sveum: had his BA, OBA & SLG been dragged down by dismal performance against lefties, then LaHair would have been left off of the team.

    • RY34

      nothing wrong with being a realist cubs1967! doesnt make you any less of a fan. sometimes the truth hurts

  • Carew

    wow this is bad. If you dont want Soto in the 4 hole, put either Valbuena or Mather there! Just not Baker

  • Patrick W.

    So only one first baseman and one platoon right fielded on NL team?

  • Stu

    Prediction on Baker’s AB’s:

    weak ground out to first
    strikeout
    pop-up
    strikeout looking

    No expression at all. Just another day at the office.

    • Jeff

      Come on dude, Baker has a 1.375M guarunteed contract, money is in the bank!! Why try harder?

  • http://skippyhahavintage.blogspot.com/ Pouncey

    soto in the five hole is worse. i hope he hits 4 homers so we can dump his fat contract. the cubs will suck until they sign a catcher who is above average defensively. The should invest in plus plus catching defensive skills. Right now.

    • Carew

      I take it you’re a Koyie Hill fan?

  • http://twitter.com/dkhockey24 David

    Wonder what Sveum’s logic is with his decision to play two guys at first base. Think this could be an attempt to increase Dempster’s trade value?! Or does this mean that Jorge Soler is getting called up to the bigs soon?!?!

  • RWakild

    Dump Jeff Baker so Sveum can’t start him again!!!

  • Stu

    LaHair made the all-star game. Sorry, he can’t crack the lineup with the hitting machine Baker in front of him.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Anyone else think this would be a good trade for both sides, I do… Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano to the Rangers for Mike Olt, Cody Buckel and a low level high upside prospect. I know Thed said they want a Ubaldo haul so I figure this would suffice.

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      That low level prospect would be a pitcher of course.

  • Kevin

    How many more draft picks do you think the cubs will sign?
    These signings could be as important as players involved in all the trade talk.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/draftdb/2012xteam.php?team=1004

  • calicubsfan007

    Wow, so, two first basemen? Sveum seems to be willing to try any lineup approach to win, doesn’t he? (;

    • Toby

      Sveum does like to use the shift.

      • calicubsfan007

        Toby: You mean shifting positions? Or maybe combining positions? Maybe its like Transformers, combine Baker and Rizzo to create a good young player (Rizzo) that also doesn’t know how to field or hit (Baker).

  • calicubsfan007

    Trade idea: Turner and Cast (sounds like a sitcom) for Garza and a low level prospect. Thoughts?

    • Jeremy

      Id rather have Porcello and Castellanos but I highly doubt we deal with the Tigers. Turner is a nice prospect though. Just needs to get his velocity back.

      • calicubsfan007

        Jeremy: The only reason why not Porcello is that they really seem committed to him. But they don’t seem as confident in Turner in terms of being a solid starter. I think Turner has had enough of a “down” year to be able to pull this deal off. This time around, Cast is the centerpiece not Turner.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Tigers have said a couple of times that Castellanos is untouchable.  A good hitting, good fielding 3Bman (and he has the makings of both) is a rare commodity, and the Tigers are planning on him taking over in 2014, with Miggy going to DH after VMart leaves.  (Or Miggy to 1st and Prince to DH: but that’s the same from Castellano’s point of view.)

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Yeah I agree castellenos is untouchable. That’s why I brought up the Rangers. Mike Olt has similar numbers(not better) to Anthony Rizzo in the minors. You get your 3b of the future and with Cody Buckel and a low level high upside pitching prospect you get a great haul for Garza and Fonsi.

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    Here is a Good Stat.WAR( Wins Against Replacement).Barney 6th overall in the NL.Defensively Barney # 1 and Castro # 2.This verfies what I have been saying for the past 6 weeks. I am tired of anyone saying they should move Castro.They do not watch the Cubs.They are devoloping into a great tandem….

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    Obviously we need some new good right-handed bats. This lineup is awful again. Good for Lahair, even though he is a platoon player, Who picked him ? LaRussa.He has hit great against the Cards

    • RY34

      yep quite possibly the worst outfield ever to take the field for any team today w the likes of johnson, mather, and baker.

      • calicubsfan007

        RY34: I agree the outfield is terrible to look at, but at least Johnson can save Baker’s butt defensively. We really need to cut Baker.

        • RY34

          very true, i just meant taken as a whole. johnson is the only one salvageable of the three. mather and baker need to be cut yesterday; they do nothing for this team
          .

          • calicubsfan007

            RY34: I am guessing that Mather won’t be resigned next year ( if he’s a free agent, I don’t remember) and Baker will be cut at the end of the year. At least Mather has had glimpses of actually doing something, Baker can’t even claim that. Sure, he’s “versatile” (he sucks at fielding though), but he can’t hit a side of a barn!

  • Doug

    I know it’s the Astros but that was a much needed sweep. Hopefully we don’t see too many complaints about them screwing up their chances for the first pick in the draft. Plenty of time left to make that happen.

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