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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

  • Beast Mode

    Right down the middle.

  • lnfihDeL

    Jesus, I really hate sac bunts. i’d rather they just swing away. Hit it where they aint.

  • Jon

    Just one of 95+ losses. Buckle up, it’s going to be a rough year

  • another JP

    CarVille puts it on a tee vs. a lefty. Perfect.

  • Medicos

    Loss #1—-the first many more. It’s true bunting, hit-run, sac flies, moving runners along truly makes no sense, but if you have hitters on the Cubs who aren’t decent hitters then something else needs to used to possibly win games.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Seriously, you need to run the Bible according to Theo and Beane. They don’t believe in bunting, etc. I happen to agree with most of their theories.

      • Jon

        “The Bible according to Theo”
        What an awesome, potential alternative title to this Blog site

  • Funn Dave

    Bummer.

    • itzscott

      You just KNEW that was going to happen eventually.

      • Funn Dave

        ‘Fraid so.

  • Beast Mode

    Where is wright in that situation

  • Kyle

    127-198 from the smartest player development organization in baseball. Just ask them.

    • another JP

      Better asking them than you. When the Cubs do finally start winning, what’s your bitch going to be then, Mr. Mouth?

      • Kyle

        Why did it take you so long to start winning, probably.

        • another JP

          Figures. Just the kind of guy you are.

          • Kyle

            I like it when my favorite sports teams win on a regular basis and don’t need a bunch of terrible years just to get to the first winning one.

            I’m weird like that.

      • KHRSS

        You mean “IF” the cubs start winning…

  • johnnyfootball

    Couldnt believe Villanueva got the 5th starter spot over Rusin. Plenty of better options in the pen Renteria shouldve gone to.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Facepalm

      • johnnyfootball

        Why? Villanueva’s not a good pitcher. Never has been. End of story. Not to mention he’s got zero upside. And he didnt exactly earn the job in spring training, with a 5.60 ERA. Rusin shouldve gotten the 5th starter spot until Arrieta returns.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Samardzija was solid. Strop and Russell were solid. But the offense struggled to score runs, and struggled against a left-handed starter…which should be of NO SURPRISE.

    The future is very bright, but 2014 is going to be ugly. It just is.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    Open the gates and let the butt hurt flow.

  • KHRSS

    Go Cubs Go! 0-10 or 11 w/RISP.

  • Karl Groucho

    Bleh, I was so excited for an opening day win. We’ll get ‘em Wednesday!

  • Spoda17

    There were more positives than negatives today. Don’t forget, the Pirates have very good pitching. Yes the Cubs missed some opportunities offensively, but still not a total loss.

  • Satch

    Reality has set in for a long summer’s nap…on the plus side – I like the uniforms.

  • craigp

    Castro an Rizzo look to be in mid season form……

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