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 —
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.
It was rather obvious early, the Cubs offense was awfully disinterested in this one. Wandy Rodriguez and the cold temperatures combined to keep the Cubs at bay as they could only manage two hits all night. The Cubs opportunity came in the seventh inning when they put the first two on, and then loaded the bases with one out only to come up empty. It really was a story of one inning both ways tonight for the Cubs as Edwin Jackson was decent except for the fourth inning. Jackson struggled with his command in the fourth and gave up two runs in the frame which was more than enough for the Pirates in this one.
At The Plate – How many ways can I say bad? I guess I’ll just leave it at that, the Cubs approach and the subsequent results or lack there of left a lot to be desired. Alfonso Soriano and Alberto Gonzalez were the only Cubs to register hits in this one, both singles.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson was really good early, then got into deep count after deep count and had to exit after five innings of work. Jackson gave up two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out five in his Cubs debut. Hector Rondon made his Major League debut, tossing a scoreless inning while walking two, and striking out two. Michael Bowden gave up one run in his inning of work on two hits. Shawn Camp and Hasanori Takahashi each had scoreless outings.
Stat Of The Night – Here I will feature a stat, either from the game, or a trend, could be good, or bad, or alarming. Tonight it’s alarming, the Cubs are 0-for-13 as a team with RISP, yikes.
The Cubs had two hits, there are no highlights worth watching, I promise.
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Pitching Matchup – Cubs: Edwin Jackson (0-0, 0.00) vs. Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00)
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 6:05 PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN Chicago / WGN 720
The Run Down: The Cubs look to go 2-0 for the first time in what seems like forever. Edwin Jackson will make his Cubs debut, and have to battle his emotions and stay within himself in order to have the command he will need to work deep into this one. With Wandy Rodriguez heading to the mound for the Pirates the Cubs will go to their lefty lineup today which features a number of back ups including Dave Sappelt, Alberto Gonzalez, and Scott Hairston.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
Sure these games don’t matter much to the Cubs, but watching them battle to the final out is at least fun to watch, for those of us who are still watching. Jason Berken, who was claimed from the Orioles made his Cubs debut today and didn’t have his best stuff but he didn’t get any help from his defense. Berken lasted four innings giving up six runs, only two earned, on eight hits, while walking one and striking out two. The Pirates were able to build a 6-1 lead by the fifth inning and that’s when the Cubs started to turn the tide in this one. The Cubs were able to push across two runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 6-3, but the Pirates were able to get one back in the seventh on Clint Barmes solo shot to push the lead to four runs. Refusing to quit the Cubs scored once in the eighth and two more times in the ninth to cut the Pirates led to one. Unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t tie it up in the ninth as Dave Sappelt struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat, and the game. Four different Cubs had two hits in this one, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, and Dave Sappelt. Darwin Barney also had a spectacular day with the glove as he made several fantastic plays to rob various Pirate hitters of base hits. Game three of this series is tomorrow afternoon, and the series wraps up on Monday Night.
Barney’s Great Catch
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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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Break out the brooms, thanks to an outstanding effort from Travis Wood, and timely hitting, again, from Anthony Rizzo the Cubs swept away the Astros on Sunday, it was the Cubs fifth win in their last six games. After just under an hour rain delay both offenses seemed less than ready to swing the bats as both pitchers were breezing through the early innings. The Cubs staged a rally in the 6th, Starlin Castro was intentionally walked with Travis Wood at third and one out bring Anthony Rizzo to the plate in a big spot. Rizzo wasted no time, lacing an RBI single through the right side on a first pitch curve ball to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead, it turned out to be the game winning hit, Rizzo’s third in five games already. Jeff Baker followed with a double down the left field line that scored Castro and Rizzo all the way from first. That was more than enough for Travis Wood as he shut out the Astros over 7.2 innings only allowing three hits, while walking none and struck out four. Wood improved to 3-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.05. Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 8th save of the season, the third straight in this series. Full box score and highlights after the jump.