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pnc parkAnd away we go!

The first game of the 2014 season, and the first game of the Ricky Renteria era as manager. How does that first lineup look against lefty Francisco Liriano? Pretty fair, though you’re likely to point out the inclusion of lefty Nate Schierholtz. I’m going to assume that’s because Justin Ruggiano’s ankle is still bothering him. It’s a bummer, since the Cubs start against a lefty, but he’ll presumably get today and tomorrow off before returning on Wednesday or Thursday (when the Cubs face another lefty in Wandy Rodriguez).

You’ll also notice that, with Emilio Bonifacio in the outfield (probably going to be a regular thing against lefties), he plays center field and Junior Lake slides to left. I guess, even as a utility guy, Bonifacio is better in center than Lake when the games really count. A mark against Lake, or a compliment to Bonifacio’s extreme defensive versatility?

There’s a lot of speed at the top of the lineup, and Starlin Castro ends up slotting in the three-hole, with Anthony Rizzo behind him. It’s not a bad group against Liriano, but it’s really not overstating it to say that Ruggiano may have been the biggest threat in the lineup against Liriano (career .256/.328/.506 against lefties). The good news is that, based on the way Ruggiano described his ankle issue, he could theoretically be available to pinch hit (I’m just guessing, mind you).

Oh, and a head’s up that you’ll notice in Pre-Gamin’ posts this year, as well as Series Previews: the W/L stat for pitchers no longer exists to me. It’s stupid, misleading, and a terrible reflection of performance and ability. I’ll breath no further life into it, thankyouverymuch.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (0-0) at Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0), 12:05 CT on WGN and ESPN.

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

Jeff Samardzija (4.34 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 3.45 xFIP in 2013, 2.74 K/BB)

versus

Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 3.12 xFIP in 2013, 2.59 K/BB)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Travis Snider, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

5. Russell Martin, C

6. Neil Walker, 2B

7. Travis Ishikawa, 1B

8. Jordy Mercer, SS

9. Francisco Liriano, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Junior Lake, LF

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Mike Olt, 3B

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Nate Schierholtz, RF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • Picklenose

    Shark has a WHIP of 1.0 today, that is a hopeful sign.

  • lnfihDeL

    Welp, total Cubes.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    Rizzo looks dumb founded at the plate// lead off double and no run to show for it

  • newsguy23

    SAD

  • kridertr

    Different year, same shitty situational hitting! Lol glad we aren’t supposed to be good or I’d be pissed lol

  • CubsFaninMS

    Prediction: Strop = a new, more cost-controlled Carlos Marmol

    Electric when on, disastrous when bad.

    Hopefully I am proven wrong.

    • C. Steadman

      Nah, you’re pretty much right on with that assessment…

      • Blackhawks1963

        Yep. Strop is either going to be solid, or he’s going to be very bad. He’s not a guy with much in-between.

  • C. Steadman

    Good outing by Jeff, no run support…RISP again a problem in the 1st game

  • Blackhawks1963

    Scoring runs is going to be a problem again in 2014. Granted, Liriano is a solid pitcher and the Cubs forever suck against good lefties.

  • Crockett

    Can we undo the Rizzo trade and just plug Bryant in at 1B next May?

  • SenorGato

    Nice PA by Valbuena.

  • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

    Renteria doing the right thing here. Grilli does have some trouble with lefties

  • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

    Late inning use of pinch hitters is going to be one of the other benefits of Bonifacio.

  • smackafilieyo

    RISP CURSE LIVES ON….smh

  • CubsFaninMS

    It’s a crying shame we can’t get Samardzija the W. I know we discussed above that Wins are not an accurate measure of a starting pitcher’s performance, but he deserves a W today.

  • craigp

    Grimm?

    • cking6178

      Yea, I was thinking the same thing…but as I think about it more, I think it’s good experience for him…Keep with the theme of development…he got squeezed a bit on the first hitter…

  • Beast Mode

    Worked out.

  • craigp

    His stuff looks good

  • Beast Mode

    Ironicolly, I think he used Grimm to not walk anyone

  • another JP

    Win or lose the Cubs have played ‘em tough today. The hitting will come around and the pitching has been solid.

  • craigp

    Seems like the cubs have wasted too many chances to win. Sure hope I’m wrong!

  • Chad

    Wellington takes one straight to the junk. Not cool, not cool at all.

  • Rudy N

    Seem weird Villanueva is warming up in the pen? Maybe he is not the 5th starter per se?

  • Beast Mode

    They don’t need a fifth starter yet.

  • Spoda17

    he is the 5th… they are just using him so he doesn’t have a huge layoff until Sunday

    • Beast Mode

      Makes sense. I jus remembered they said they would use five.

  • Medicos

    Until the Cub hitters learn to move the runners along (bunting, hit-and-run, hitting behind the runner, sacrifice flies, etc.) the team will compile the same losing record the past three years despite fairly decent pitching.

    • DarthHater

      Yes, underuse of ineffective strategies is one of their biggest problems.

    • Blackhawks1963

      No. And please be mindful that the Theo Epstein / Billy Beane philosophy of baseball is that bunting, hit and run, etc. should rarely be part of the game plan.

    • Funn Dave

      Well, that will help, slightly. What we really need is some hitters who can consistently hit. We can’t really blame the curse of the RISP when we’re only getting five hits in nine innings.

      • DarthHater

        Exactly.

    • Kyle

      That has little to nothing to do with why the Cubs lose.

  • Funn Dave

    Hahaha. Boni, Boni, Boni. Let’s hit him in this time.

    • Chad

      Too bad he just got picked off, well if they get the call right anyway.

      • Funn Dave

        Oh, weaksauce. I only have the gameday feed.

        • Picklenose

          Dave, look up wiziwig.tv They publish links to a few stream torrent casters who carry MLB games. Once you download the client and the patch to fix it, you can watch the stream in a small window or enlarge it to the entire monitor. Quality can be pretty good depending on the particular streamer, but you have to be willing to accept a few seconds to a minute or so delay in the video. Its not as good as MLB cast, but better than a blackout.

  • Beast Mode

    We’ll instant replay six. At least today.

  • Beast Mode

    Sux.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    2 instant replays, both ruled wrong. Just leave the game alone, it worked fine for 150 years.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      This is what is awesome about instant replay. Regardless of correct or not…if the call is against your team “IT’S WRONG!!!!!”

      Bonifacio was out via a fantastic pickoff throw and it was unclear on Samardzija but it looked like he was probably out.

    • DarthHater

      Umm, the instant replay guys upheld the call on the field. So the result was exactly the same as it would have been for the last 150 years.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        BUT THE TRADITION OF US BITCHING ABOUT THE CALL INSTEAD OF THE REPLAY!!!!!

        • DarthHater

          I am actually opposed to instant reply for the sole reason of wanting to protect the great tradition of bitching at the umps. :-D

  • cking6178

    Sweet, nice pitch Villanueva! Grrr…

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