After dropping a doubleheader to the San Diego Padres, the Chicago Cubs will welcome in the Pittsburgh Pirates for a three-game weekend series. Can they stop their brief two-game skid?
Today will mark the second time that these two clubs have met but this time, the Chicago Cubs have themselves a padded lead in the National League Central.
Last week, when these two first met up, Chicago had a three-game lead in the standings and put together an eight-game winning streak that was snapped on Wednesday. The Cubs (25-8) almost reached nine games until Pedro Strop blew their lead late, resulting in one of two losses.
Wednesday’s defeat ended Chicago’s streak of avoiding more than one loss, proving to the rest of the world that they are, in fact, human.
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Now that they had an opportunity to kick back and relax, they are ready to get back to work. Right-hander Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.85 ERA) will be the man taking the bump in hopes of getting his club back on track.
In his previous outing against the Pirates (18-15), outfielder Andrew McCutchen launched a solo home run in the very first inning. Despite giving up the early lead, the Cubbies battled back with a huge four-run fifth inning as they went on to defeat the Bucs by the final score of 7-2.
As for the visiting team, veteran southpaw Francisco Liriano (3-1, 3.60 ERA) squares off against the Cubs for the first time this season after missing out in their previous battle at PNC Park.
Liriano is cruising into the Windy City behind a two-game winning streak, holding the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals to three earned runs on 10 hits and a 16/2 K/BB ratio in 13 2/3 innings of work dating back to Apr. 30th in Pittsburgh.
The last time he pitched against the Cubs was at Wrigley Field on Sep. 26th. Sure, this isn’t the same team he had faced last season but he provided the visiting team with 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball while limiting the Cubs to four hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts.
This time around, he’s going up against a team that has made a handful of opposing pitchers miserable. Especially those who represent the Steel City.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. central time and will air live on WGN, 670 The Score. Fans who are out of market are able to watch it via MLB.tv. Blackouts will apply.
Here’s how both clubs match up: