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.
The Cubs did some good things today, getting hits with runners in scoring position was not one of them. But about those good things, the Cubs pitching was stellar, and their defense was just as good. Jeff Samardzija loves facing the Pirates, especially in Pittsburgh, one year after going eight scoreless against the Buccos, he went seven scoreless but settled for a no decision. Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and James Russell all did their job out of the bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, not so much. Villanueva faced one batter, and that was it, Neil Walker blasted a walk-off home run to move the Cubs to 0-1 on the young season.
The Cubs struggles were front and center at the plate as they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, yikes. They also struck out a lot, eleven times to be exact as they were baffled by Francisco Liriano all day long. I did like the Cubs approach today though, as they worked deep counts and were able to get to the Pirates pen by the 7th inning, it just didn’t work out. Emilio Bonifacio had a big day at the plate in his debut as he went 4-for-5 with a double, the Cubs as a whole only had six hits in the loss.
* Photo credit: GENE PUSKAR/AP
Monday, March 31, 2014 – 12:05 PM CST
(TV: ESPN, WGN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 6:05 PM CST
(TV: CSN+) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Thursday, April 3, 2014 – 11:35 AM CST
(TV: MLBN, CSN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
— Series Vitals —
— Pitching Matchups —
Samardzija (Career vs. Pirates) (4 – 3; 2.11 ERA, 18 appearances, 7 starts)
Liriano (Career vs. Cubs) (3 – 2; 2.72 ERA, 6 appearances, 6 starts)
Jackson (Career vs. Pirates) (6 – 2; 3.19 ERA, 10 appearances, 10 starts)
Morton (Career vs. Cubs) (2 – 4; 4.91 ERA, 9 appearances, 9 starts)
Hammel (Career vs. Pirates) (2 – 1; 4.35 ERA, 4 appearances, 3 starts)
Rodriguez (Career vs. Cubs) (9 – 7; 3.60 ERA, 24 appearances, 24 starts)
— Weather —
Oh offense, are you there?? If so, can you please show up today, thanks. The Cubs have been absolutely shut down the last two days by the Pirates pitching, first by Francisco Liriano, then yesterday by A.J. Burnett. Today the Cubs will tasked with solving Jeff Locke who has been outstanding for the Pirates. The Cubs will counter with Edwin Jackson who has been anything but outstanding for the Cubs, first pitch is scheduled for 1:20 PM CST, there is a threat of rain, but should be dry until after the game.
1. Barney – 2B
2. Ransom- 3B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Hairston – RF
6. Navarro – C
7. Castro – SS
8. Sweeney – CF
9. Jackson – P
1. Marte – LF
2. Snider – RF
3. McCutcen – CF
4. Jones – 1B
5. Martin – C
6. Alvarez – 3B
7. Walker – 2B
8. Barmes – SS
9. Locke – P
Solid match up on the mound today as Jeff Samardzija takes on A.J. Burnett in a rematch of Opening Day. The Cubs had a solid approach yesterday for the most part as they made Liriano work, but couldn’t get a clutch hit to save their life. The Cubs will have to do more of the same with Burnett, make him throw strikes and get in deep counts and they should have some success. First pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM CST, here are the lineups.
Oh right, the Cubs play today. Lost in the excitement with the draft is that the Cubs still have games to play, it is what it is, we are forced to look to the future. Travis Wood gets the ball for the Cubs today as they look to build on an exciting win to close out the Angels series on Wednesday. The Pirates will counter with Francisco Liriano who gave the Cubs fits in Pittsburgh the last time these teams met. Here are the lineups for today.
Yet another outstanding effort from a Cubs starting pitcher ends up in a Cubs loss, as it has so often in 2013. It was Jeff Samardzija‘s turn to get screwed over as he was dominant all night only to see his record get worse as the Cubs couldn’t push a single run across the plate. Sure, Francisco Liriano was solid, but the vaunted “righty lineup” did what it usually does, come up empty, often. The turning point in this one took place in the third inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out with the top of the order coming up. The Cubs couldn’t score in that situation, it wasn’t the first time this year, and it won’t be the last, and a team that can’t score in that situation doesn’t deserve to win the game. It wouldn’t be a Cubs loss without another fake rally in the ninth inning and that’s exactly what happened as the Cubs had runners on first and second with only one out and came away empty-handed yet again. If it’s not the bullpen blowing a game, it’s the offense not helping out a starter after he has done way more than enough to win, these losses are really starting to get on everyone’s nerves.
At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage four hits in the loss, they walked only once, and struck out eleven times. Here are a couple more depressing stats, they were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight guys on base. Julio Borbon, and Cody Ransom each had a hit in the loss while Welington Castillo had two singles.
On The Mound – Jeff Samardzija did everything he could to get the win tonight, I guess he was supposed to hit a home run as well, unfortunately he didn’t. Shark worked seven innings giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out eight. The loss drops his record to 2-6 on the season as he lowered his ERA to 3.25 for the year, amazing. Carlos Villanueva was available tonight, guess he wasn’t available twenty-four hours ago, he worked a scoreless inning while walking one.
Up Next – Game three of the series, hopefully the Cubs can find a way to salvage one game of this series. Edwin Jackson gets the start for the Cubs, he will be opposed by Jeanmar Gomez at 11:35 AM CST tomorrow morning.
Check back later, MLB.com has no Cubs highlights yet, oh right, they probably won’t.