The three-game series is up for grabs, as both teams look to dig themselves out of a large hole in the NL Central race.
Houston Astros at Chicago Cubs
Houston is set to play its final game of a six-game road trip against the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, with the team posting a 12-5 combined mark against those two opponents this season. The Astros are 14-11 versus NL clubs since June 7, winning four of seven series over that span. Unlike today’s opponent, Houston has had success against the division, tallying a 21-17 record (+1,060). The club is 13-18 in day games this season (+10) and 60-63 over the last three years, with the team averaging 3.5 runs and combining for a dismal .229 average under the sun. Houston has thrived in playing during the middle of the week, tallying an 11-3 mark when playing on Wednesday (+1,020).
Astros starting pitcher Brett Myers is 7-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 19 starts this season (+280) and is coming in with a two-game winning streak. Over those two starts, he has allowed three earned runs and 10 hits over 15.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-hander has a losing 2-6 mark and 4.14 ERA in 10 road starts, as he’s allowed nine home runs in 67.1 frames. In 14 career appearances (10 starts) versus the Cubs, Myers has tallied a brilliant 8-3 record and 2.63 ERA. He is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in six daytime starts this year, as hitters have combined for a .303 average.
Chicago is looking to win its second consecutive series after picking up a 14-7 blowout victory over the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. The club remains 10.5 games back of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals, but manager Lou Piniella is keeping the faith. “I want to win as many games as we can to get back in this pennant race,” he said. Piniella announced on Monday that the 2010 season would be his last in Chicago. The club is 9-6 in its last 15 games after dropping eight of their previous 11 contests. Entering today’s game, the Cubs have a 16-26 record against the NL Central (-2,070), which is the third-lowest mark for any NL club within its own division. That’s a big drop off from the team posting a 322-254 record against divisional foes from 2003-09.
Cubs starter Ted Lilly is 3-8 with a 4.07 ERA in 16 starts this season (-390), with the team dropping two of his last three starts. In those three starts, the left-hander has allowed 19 runs (17 earned) and 22 hits over 17.1 innings of work. He did lead the Cubs to a 4-3 home victory over the Philadelphia Phillies last time out, surrendering three runs and four hits over seven frames. In 10 career starts against the Astros, Lilly has produced a fantastic 7-1 record and 2.49 ERA, with an .197 batting average against. He is winless in seven daytime starts, posting an 0-3 record and 5.73 ERA, with much of the damage stemming from 11 home runs in 44 innings.
Bettors will not find comfort in playing the Astros with a 10-11 mark against left-handed starters this year (+80) and 53-52 record the last three seasons (+960). The home team is no better in facing the opposing pitcher, starting today’s action with a 27-35 record against right-handed starters (-1,320).