After having eight of their first eleven games at home the time has come for the Cubs to hit the road, and face some stiff NL Central competition. Tonight’s game in Pittsburgh starts a seven game road trip that will see the Cubs battle the Pirates for four, then head to Cincinnati for three. The Pirates are playing solid baseball right now as they have won three straight games, and sit a half game behind the Cubs for second place in the Central. The Cubs are coming off a tough series loss to the Padres, their first of the season. All three games could have went the Cubs way, but a burnt out bullpen, short starts, and lack of clutch hitting came back to bite them.
- Monday, April 20, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – CSN Chicago Plus (Channel Finder)
- Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – WGN 9 Chicago
- Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – CSN
- Thursday, April 23, 2015 – 11:35 AM CST – CSN, MLB Network
- Game One: Jake Arrieta (1-1, 1.98) vs. A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25)
- Game Two: Travis Wood (1-1, 2.31) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-1, 2.08)
- Game Three: Jason Hammel (1-0, 5.11) vs. Vance Worley (1-1, 5.84)
- Game Four: Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 6.10) vs. Jeff Locke (2-0, 1.93)
Who is Hot:
- Pirates: After a slow start, and a big new contract, Josh Harrison is starting to heat up at the plate. He is hitting .292 (7-for-24) over his last seven with a double, homer, and two RBI’s.
- Cubs: Anthony Rizzo was getting on base earlier in the year but wasn’t seeing too many hits dropping, that is changing. Rizzo is hitting .318 (7-for-22) over his last six games with a home run, three RBI’s, a double, and SIX walks.
Who is Not:
- Pirates: After a productive 2014, Jordy Mercer has come out of the gate struggling. Mercer is hitting just .118 (2-for-17) over his last seven games with only one walk, two strikeouts, and no runs scored.
- Cubs: Second base is an issue for the Cubs right now, as both Jonathan Herrera, and Arismendy Alcantara are scuffling. Herrera is hitting just .158 (3-for-19) over his last six games, while Alcantara comes in at a .143 (2-for-14) clip, with six strikeouts.
It’s really quite disappointing that the Cubs come into the series on the heels of just losing one at home to the Mets. That was the whole step back thing I was talking about before that series even started, and the Cubs went out and did just that as they fell back into bad habits, or trends, and lost the series. The Cubs get a chance at redemption and to start another series winning streak starting tonight in Pittsburgh, and it’s a very important series. Why, you ask. I’ll tell you, my inquisitive friend, this marks the beginning of an eight game road trip, and I really think if they can get through this no worse than .500 they will be seeing .500 on the season sooner than later. Tonight also marks the return of Mr. Pie to the face, Matt Garza. All kidding aside this is huge for the Cubs and Garza for so many reasons, one of those reasons is contract status, the other is trade value. The Pirates come into this series with the pedal to the metal as they find themselves just two games out of first in the Central. They also pose a challenge in their home ballpark where they are 15-9 on the season. Both the Pirates and Cubs come into this series as equals as far as scoring runs is concerned, the Pirates have scored 176, the Cubs have scored 173. Wait, so why do the Pirates have a better record, well, they have better pitching then the Cubs, specifically in the pen. The Buccos boast the third best team ERA (3.33)in all of baseball, and their bullpen is a huge reason why as they have a bullpen ERA of 2.81, which is second best in the Majors. The Cubs currently sit twenty-third in the Majors with a 4.11 bullpen ERA, and that boys and girls is why the Pirates are eight games over .500 and the Cubs are seven games under.
The Cubs lost two out of three to the Mets at Wrigley, and of course could have, and maybe should have won all three, which seems to happen a lot this year.
The Pirates won two out of three from the Astros in Pittsburgh over the weekend, and have won eight of their last ten games.
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Tuesday, May 21, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
- Wednesday, May 22, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on WGN
- Thursday, May 23, 2013 – 11:35 AM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Matt Garza (0-0, -.–)
– Career vs. Pirates (3 GS) (1-1, 3.79)
Game Two – Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 3.59)
– Career vs. Pirates (14 appearances, 3 GS) (4-0, 0.92)
Game Three – Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76)
– Career vs. Pirates (7 GS) (4-1, 3.09)
Game One – Wandy Rodriguez (4-2, 3.25)
– Career vs. Cubs (23 GS) (8-7, 3.56)
Game Two – Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-1, 6.35)
Game Three – Jeanmar Gómez (2-0, 2.78)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)
This will be the first time all season that the Cubs will trot out their number one, two and three starters. Okay, Jackson is not quite performing like a number three yet, and Wood and Feldman have been much better, but on paper going into this year it was Garza, Samardzija, Jackson. Garza’s return to the rotation should only make the pitching staff, bullpen included, better. With that said, I think the Cubs lose two out of three to the Pirates. I think Garza will be way too amped up to make his first start so I forsee command issues and a loss tonight. Now if Garza can harness that emotion the Cubs have a great shot to win the series, but given how hot the Pirates are, and Garza “easing” back into things I think the Buccos get the best of the him tonight, and then the Cubs splitting the next two.
Cub to Watch:
I expect a big series from Starlin Castro. Castro has had his ups and downs this year, but not too high or too low. He has hovered around .280 for the better part of a month, I think this series is the jumping off point to a really hot stretch.
The Pirates comes to town looking very much like the 2011 version of the club that collapsed down the stretch and finished with a below five hundred record yet again, and nothing like the surging contender earlier in the year. The Pirates sit just two games over five hundred now and are losers of six straight games, three of those against the Cubs in Pittsburgh last week. The Cubs on the other hand are playing solid baseball, winning five out of their last six games, all on the road which is really saying something given how bad they have been away from Wrigley this year. Solid starting pitching and the long ball have paced the Cubs in September as they have ten home runs, 5th most in the National League this month. No one has contributed more to that total than Alfonso Soriano as he has five home runs in just 12 games this month. After being pulled in the third inning two nights ago, and missing yesterday’s game it sounds like Anthony Rizzo will be back in the Cubs lineup tomorrow, that collision could have been much worse.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.
Season Series: Series Tied 6-6
Prediction: Cubs win series 3-1
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Let’s hope the Cubs have some fire left over from yesterday as they could use some of that on the field this weekend against the Pirates. The season is becoming historically bad, and facing another contender on the road is not going to make it any better. The Cubs come into this series losers of six straight with only two wins in their last ten games. Anthony Rizzo is one guy that has been earning his paycheck of late as he is hitting .423, with a double, three home runs and three RBI’s in his last seven games. The pitching staff on the other hand should give their money back to the organization. The Cubs staff has a record of 0-6 with a 7.20 ERA, such is life in September with a bunch of guys basically trying out for next season. The Pirates have been mediocre as of late as they try to summon the energy for one final push for the postseason, they trail both Atlanta and St. Louis in the race for the Wild Card by 1.5 games.
Season Series: Pirates lead 6-3
Prediction: Cubs Win Series 2-1, how do you like those apples?
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The Cubs are getting used to this whole spoiler thing as they are coming off series wins against the second place (Pirates) and third place (Cardinals) teams in the Central. The Pirates come to town to kick off the week and they are seeking some revenge as the Cubs took two out of three at PNC park last week. Not many teams can say that as the Pirates boast the best home record in baseball, on the road they are average, hovering right around .500 on the season. It will be very interesting to see how this series plays out as it starts before the trade deadline and ends after it. Both teams might look very different come Wednesday. Let’s take an in-depth look at this series, hope you enjoy the new format.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
Oh how a weekend changes the feeling around a ball club. Coming into last weekend the Cubs were the hottest team in baseball, they are now licking their wounds on their way to Pittsburgh. The Cubs and Pirates open a three game series tonight, and the Pirate have been red-hot as they sit half a game out of first in the Central behind the Reds. The Pirates are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are an insane 32-14 at PNC Park, the best home record in all of baseball. The Cubs need to find some offense in this series as they were shut out the last two games in St. Louis against the Cardinals. The Cubs won’t have it much easier at the plate in this series as the Pirates have the 5th best ERA in the National League. Offensively the Pirates are 10th in the National League in runs scored, doesn’t seem good, but when the Cubs last faced the Pirates they were dead last, they are raking. Andrew McCutchen leads the charge for the Pirates as he is hovering around the triple crown right now, if the Cubs want to win this series they will need to find a way to shut down one of the games best. Full preview/breakdown after the jump.
Normally I would preview this series as the Cubs taking on a lesser opponent in the Pirates, only because that’s how it’s been forever, unfortunately the shoe is on the other foot right now. The Cubs are the worst team in baseball, and that’s just by looking at their record, sure the Pirates haven’t been good either, but the Cubs are a low scoring soccer team right now, that’s not a compliment, and I hate soccer so that’s hard for me to say. The Cubs offense wasn’t very good in the early part of the season, but it has reached a new level of bad during this nine game losing streak. If the Cubs are going to get out of this slide they need to explode, I’m talking 6-9 runs in one game… I know, crazy. Maybe if they do that the pressure will be off and they can all relax, until then they will continue to squeeze the saw dust out of the bat and lose. It won’t be easy because one, it never is with this team, and two, the Pirates boast the 3rd best team ERA in the National League. Full preview/breakdown after the jump.