One week ago, the Pirates were coming off a three game series sweep of the Miami Marlins and welcomed the struggling Chicago Cubs into Pittsburgh. And then, shockingly, the Pirates dropped two of three to the Cubs at PNC Park, and fans immediately began to wonder if this was the start of a stall in the season similar to last year’s slide. Even though the Bucs responded by taking three of four from the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, they now have another difficult challenge ahead of them as they now trail the division leading Cincinnati Reds.
Now, the Pirates are in Chicago for a three game series at Wrigley Field. Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Garrett Jones have led the offense for the most part, while A.J. Burnett and Jeff Karstens are leading the pitching rotation. After his fourth straight rough outing, James McDonald has the Pirates and their fans worried about how to fix his control issues. Wandy Rodriguez, freshly acquired from the Astros, promises to be a huge upgrade to the starting rotation, pushing Kevin Correia to the bullpen.
Wrigley Field is a difficult place to play, and this is a series that the Pirates definitely need to win to build some momentum has they head into a huge series against the Reds next weekend at Great American Ballpark.
Pirates (58-43) vs. Cubs (42-58)
About the Cubs…
42-58 Record, 5th In N.L. Central
Last Series: 2-1 Series Win Vs.St. Louis Cardinals
There’s nothing new about the Cubs. They got off to a horrendous start this season, and have played pretty decent baseball since. We just saw them last week inPittsburgh, where they took two of three from the Bucs at PNC Park. Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro are leading the offensive attack, while Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster (despite the trade rumors) lead the team in wins and ERA respectively.
7/30 – Erik Bedard (PIT) (5-11, 4.32 ERA, 93 K, 45 BB, WHIP 1.45) vs. Justin Germano (CHI) (0-1, 1.04 ERA, 8 K, 2 BB, WHIP 1.38)
7/31 – A.J. Burnett (PIT) (12-3, 3.52 ERA, 94 K, 35 BB, WHIP 1.25) vs. Ryan Dempster (CHI) (5-5, 2.25 ERA, 83 K, 27 BB, WHIP 1.04)
8/1 – Jeff Karstens (PIT) (3-2, 3.88 ERA, 38 K, 12 BB, WHIP 1.24) vs. Travis Wood (CHI) (4-6, 4.98 ERA, 54 K, 30 BB, WHIP 1.29)
The Pirates are currently three games back of the Reds heading into this series at Wrigley Field, making this three gamer against the Cubs that much more important.
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Let’s Go Bucs!
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