Preview: Cubs at Astros
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[September 09, 2016]
The Chicago Cubs continue their
nine-game road trip with the first of three against the Houston
Astros on Friday and are not content with having the best record in
baseball or a huge lead in the National League Central. “The cool
thing for me is that when you've got this kind of lead this late in
the season, guys are still not giving away (at-bats) late in the
game,” Chicago catcher David Ross told reporters. “That's a sign of
guys just focused on what's going on, on the field. Nothing else.”
The Cubs, who are 12-1 in their last 13 series openers, lead the St.
Louis Cardinals by 16 games and have a magic number of eight to
clinch their first division title since 2008. Houston trails
Baltimore by 2 1/2 games for the second wild card spot in the
American League after concluding a 3-4 road trip by splitting four
in Cleveland. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa missed the last two
games because of shoulder inflammation and was sent back to Houston
Wednesday to be examined by team doctors, leaving his availability
for the Chicago series in question. Chicago's Jon Lester is 6-0 with
a 1.85 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break and opposes
rookie Joe Musgrove, who is 1-0, 0.54 in three games (two starts) at
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), ROOT (Houston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs LH Jon Lester (15-4, 2.61 ERA) vs. Astros RH
Joe Musgrove (2-3, 5.06)
Lester, who is among the favorites to win his first Cy Young award,
took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before pitching a
three-hitter in Chicago's 2-1 victory over San Francisco on Sept. 2.
"I didn't think his stuff was overpowering,'' Ross told reporters
about the 32-year-old Washington native. "He just really moved the
ball around and executed the pitches when he had to." Lester, who is
7-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 14 road turns, is 10-0, 2.43 in 15 night
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Musgrove allowed five runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 12-4
loss at Texas on Saturday, falling to 1-3 with an 8.71 ERA in four
road starts. The 23-year-old Californian and first-round draft pick
by Toronto in 2011 hasn't gotten through the sixth inning in his
last four starts, going 1-3 with a 8.53 ERA during that span.
Musgrove yielded 42 hits, seven home runs and eight walks while
striking out 35 in 37 1/3 innings this season.
1. The Cubs lost in Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday, and haven't
dropped three straight since a five-game slide from July 5-9.
2. Houston 2B Jose Altuve is four stolen bases shy of becoming the
first player in history to reach 200 doubles and 200 steals in his
first six seasons.
3. Chicago CF and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler is hitless in his
last 19 at-bats.
PREDICTION: Cubs 3, Astros 2
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