wrigley field from right bleachersThe Pirates are a couple games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central, and there are but a week’s worth of games left to play. In this series, the Cubs could close the Pirates out from winning the division (they’ll still pick up a Wild Card slot, but, obviously, anything can happen in a one-game playoff). That’s what is at stake here.

Game Info

Pittsburgh Pirates (89-67) at Chicago Cubs (65-91), 7:05 CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.35 ERA, 3.58 FIP)


Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.42 ERA, 3.80 FIP)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Jose Tabata, LF

2. Neil Walker, 2B

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, RF

6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Jordy Mercer, SS

9. Charlie Morton, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Starlin Castro, SS

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Dioner Navarro, C

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Ryan Sweeney, CF

7. Brian Bogusevic, LF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • Cubbie Tim

    Let’s go Bucs. Cuck the Fardinals

    • Jason P

      -Barney was never a good hitter in the minors, he was never a good hitter in the majors, and right now he has an OPS well under .600.
      -His best season in AAA of the 2 seasons he played there was in 2009 when, as a 25-year-old, he posted a .319 wOBA and 83 wRC+.
      -Logan Watkins just got done posting a 90 wRC+ and .325 wOBA as a 24-year-old in AAA 1 year removed from posting a 130 wRC+ and .376 wOBA in the hitter-friendly Southern League.
      -Watkins has better speed, a much better approach, and slightly more natural power than Barney.
      -There is no hope whatsoever of Barney developing further. He’s 27, soon-to-be 28, and he is what he is. And he isn’t very good.

    • Jason P

      Responded to the wrong comment, my bad…

  • mikelach13

    I’d rather see Logan Watkins at 2B at this point in the season.

    • jon


    • cubes

      dumbest complaint ever.

  • mjhurdle

    If Sandberg was the manager, he would have this team in the playoffs due to both Lake and Watkins starting everyday which would give protection to Castro and Rizzo in the lineup which would have gotten them out of their slumps and got the team scoring more ‘clutch’ runs resulting in more confidence in the starting pitchers who would go later in the game and then Sandberg would only use Strop from the bullpen so there would be no more blown saves and the Cubs would have been leading the Central mid-season forcing cheap man Ricketts to trade the minor league system for Price and Stanton in order to bolster our playoff run.
    I feel i have successfully encapsulated most of the popular debate topics all in one rambling sentence.

    • frank

      You forgot to mention that this is because Sandberg is 7 feet tall . . . he kills men by the hundreds; and if he were here, he would subdue our enemies with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse . . .

      • DarthHater

        Actually, I think that’s bolts of lightning from his eyes and fireballs from his arse.

        • MichiganGoat

          Sandberg just needs to grow a mustache so he can harness the full powers of his Tidrowian Powers

        • frank

          Maybe after a couple too many habaneros . . .

    • chrisfchi

      Ryne Sandburg vs. Chuck Norris. Who wins?

      • MichiganGoat

        Dick Tidrow of course

        • chrisfchi

          Tidrow-stach FTW!

      • DarthHater

        The audience, definitely.

  • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

    Marlon Byrd = badass again. Not sure what happened but he is getting after it.

    • Jimmy James

      Found a new drug 😉

  • ssckelley

    I want moar Watkins!!!!!!!!!!

  • willis

    I really don’t give a crap who does and doesn’t make the playoffs because the cubs are not making the playoffs. I don’t care who the cubs play down the stretch. I just want them to finish strong and give us something to feel good about this last week. It would be nice to see Shark have a good outing tonight against a team gripping for postseason position.

  • Bill

    Sveum doesn’t think so about Barney.

  • BlameHendry

    What is Shark’s HR per 9 this season? I feel like it’s gotta be crazy high

    • DarthHater

      It’s 1.1. Not great, but not terrible, either.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Let me understand, Sveum put a guy in a tie game against a playoff team in the ninth inning who knows he will not be on the Cubs next year and he gives up a HR. What a shock !

    • Die hard

      Sveum won’t be back either is why… A true gamer would’ve put in a starter whose season is over to do whatever it takes to spoil

  • Gutshot5820

    In reference to Nate Shierholtz – “He’s that guy you dream of as a manager,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday.

    Really, Really Dale? A fourth outfielder is your dream player? Just go away Sveum.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      You know, you could listen to the guy a little more carefully. If you read the context, he was talking about the fact that Shierholtz takes care of business, works hard, doesn’t need lots of attention, doesn’t need lots of days off. That’s the kind of employee ANY manager in ANY field dreams of.

    • BlameHendry

      A Svuem-ism. Classic Svuem quote. Up there with calling Russell the best reliever in baseball or Wood the best starter in baseball.

      • Jimmy James

        Or Brett Jackson the best young player he had seen in spring training in his 9’years as manager

        • Gutshot5820

          How about the all-time classic…. “Clevenger has a slump proof swing.”

          • Dustin S

            I almost forgot that one, that brought some humor to my day. With Sveum I can never decide if he’s at least ok as a manager, or if the bar was just set so low after Quade that it makes him look better than he is.

  • Gutshot5820

    That’s the kind of player I appreciate. NOT the kind of player that I DREAM about.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    The Cubs new mascot/logo:
    Suffering Suck-a-tude![img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/82/Sylvester_the_Cat.svg/180px-Sylvester_the_Cat.svg.png[/img]

    Well, we are pretty locked down for a top 5 draft pick. At least, a protected one.

    Again, The Cubs over the past two seasons, are at historic lows for scoring runs – Never have the Cubs been more futile at scoring since 1945 World Series in back to back seasons. And now, are in danger of losing 50 games at home for the first time.
    The Unfriendly Confines….

    I tawt i taw a putty tat!I did!I did taw a putty tat!

  • http://Bleachernation Oliver

    Sveum should be fired for starting Barney this late in season.
    Unless he is trying to loose.