Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs return to Pittsburgh for N.L. Wild Card rematch vs Pirates

Apr 24, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Last season, the Chicago Cubs reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 campaign. In order to get to the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, they had to get through the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

That one National League Wild Card game is the last time these two teams met. Aside from Spring Training, which doesn’t necessarily count, all eyes will be on this match-up for the next three days.

The Chicago Cubs (17-6) have themselves a three-game lead over the Pirates in the National League Central with the Cardinals in third. Tonight, right-hander Jason Hammel will bring his perfect record team-best earned run average to PNC. So far to begin the year, all of his wins have come against division opponents.

Hammel (3-0, 0.75 ERA) has pitched extremely well for the first place Chicago Cubs. In three games to begin the young campaign, the 33-year-old hurler has held the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals to two earned runs on a combined 16 hits.

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He’s reached the sixth inning in every outing he has had thus far, issuing only nine walks while recording 22 punchouts. On Sunday, Apr. 24, Hammel held the visiting Reds to three hits as his offense backed him up with nine runs before skipper Joe Maddon pulled him from the game.

But while things may be looking great for Jason, tonight’s showdown with the Pirates (15-10) will surely be a tough task. This team should not be taken lightly. Especially when one of their best pitchers, Gerrit Cole, is on the mound and dealing.

Cole (2-2, 2.78 ERA) started that N.L. Wild Card game against the Cubs and was tagged for four earned runs on six hits with two of those coming via the long ball. Outfielder Dexter Fowler and now injured Kyle Schwarber took Cole deep as the Cubbies went on to winning that game, 4-0.

Pittsburgh last had Cole out on the mound seven days ago while on the road against the Colorado Rockies. Colorado felt the wrath of outfielder Andrew McCutchen who hammered three home runs as the Pirates went on to winning that game by the final score of 9-4.

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Nolan Arenado, who had two homers against the Cubs in April, recorded his eighth big fly of the season off Cole during the home half of the fourth inning which made it a two-run ballgame still in favor of the visiting team. Cole ended the contest having surrendered only two earned runs on eight hits in six frames.

Now here’s a look at the starting lineups for both the Cubs and Pirates:

First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. central time and will be aired live on ESPN (out of market only), CSN and 670 The Score.

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