Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs carry comfortable division lead into tonight’s opener

Aug 23, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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Following a winning road trip out West, the Chicago Cubs return to Wrigley Field for a brief homestand. Despite dropping two of three to the Dodgers, they still have a solid lead in the National League Central. A lead that sits at 14+ games.

And it definitely feels great when you look at the standings. Also, the entire league has less than 35 games left to play before team’s head to the postseason. Hopefully, it means the Cubs (82-47) reach and win the World Series.

But for now, it’s time to focus on this homestand starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh (67-61) currently sit in third place behind the Cardinals. Only a half game separates the two for second place in the division.

With that being said, Cardinals fans are surely pulling for the North Siders. At least, they should be if they want to hold that N.L. Wild Card spot.

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Alright, taking the bump for the Cubbies will be ace right-hander, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta (16-5, 2.62 ERA) is currently 4-1 with an earned run average of 2.47 in his previous seven outings. Which is extremely impressive considering his first-half slump.

Over the course of those outings, he has given up 13 earned runs on 24 hits while issuing 19 walks yet striking out 37. In addition to these stats, Arrieta is riding a four-game winning streak that dates back to August 6th in Oakland.

In his most recent outing in San Diego, the 30-year-old manhandled the Padres. Jake worked eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball in the 5-3 win over the Friars. A little ninth inning drama nearly cost him a win, however Aroldis Chapman slammed the door.

As for the Pirates, they have broken even in their previous 10 games. Tonight’s starter, Steven Brault (0-1, 3.60 ERA) will pick up his third career start as a big league pitcher. Brault made his major league debut against the Cardinals, yielding one earned run in four innings.

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The young right-hander has surrendered only four earned runs in his first two encounters within the division. In fact, Milwaukee tagged him for three on seven hits, including a home run in six innings of work while on the road.

He’ll make his Wrigley Field debut tonight against a team that features a few MVP candidates. Guys such as Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Anthony Rizzo, just to name a few.

First pitch for tonight’s contest is set for 7:05 p.m. central time. You can catch tonight’s action on CSN Chicago and 670 The Score. Here is a look at the starting lineups for game one of this three-game set.

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