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pnc parkThe one day between the first and second games of the season is neither literally nor figuratively as long as the offseason wait between seasons, but it sure feels like a long time. Especially when the Cubs are coming off of a punch-you-in-the-nuggets loss.

The 2014 Edwin Jackson Positive Regression Tour (or “The 2014 Edwin Jackson Totally Fixed a Whole Bunch of Things Even Though We Can’t Quite Say What They Are But He Must Have Because How Else Is He Suddenly Better” Tour) starts tonight. He doesn’t have to pitch quite like Jeff Samardzija did, but a quality start would be, well, a quality start.

As for tonight’s lineup against righty Charlie Morton, I am exceedingly pleased with Ricky Renteria’s willingness to immediately use his roster’s flexibility. Which is to say, he’s loaded the thing with lefties. Emilio Bonifacio (switch-hitter) plugs in for Darwin Barney (although, technically, since Bonifacio was in the Openign Day lineup, it’s actually Ryan Sweeney’s bat that replaces Barney’s), Ryan Kalish plugs in for Junior Lake, and Luis Valbuena plugs in for Mike Olt.

I know that the last one is going to bug some folks, but keep some things in mind: this isn’t necessarily a strict platoon, Olt is probably still dealing with his shoulder thing, and you do have to get Valbuena in there sometimes. Also, Charlie Morton has become something of an *extreme* groundball pitcher. And, one of the best ways to combat a sinkerballing righty? Lots and lots of lefties. In this context, I’m very OK with Valbuena getting the start.

Speaking of which: Morton’s career splits are staggering. Righties have hit just .251/.316/.345, whereas lefties have hit 327/.410/.497 off of him. Hell, maybe John Baker should be starting, too.

My only lineup gripe? If you’re going to have Kalish at the bottom of the order anyway, I’d rather see him batting 9th, rather than 8th.  Yes, I went there.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (0-1) at Pittsburgh Pirates (1-0), 6:05 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

Edwin Jackson (4.98 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 3.86 xFIP in 2013, 2.29 K/BB)

versus

Charlie Morton (3.26 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.69 xFIP in 2013, 2.36 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. Charlie Morton, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Ryan Sweeney, CF

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Ryan Kalish, LF

9. Edwin Jackson, P

  • Picklenose

    I wonder if Joakim Noah can play baseball?

  • kridertr

    Good inning right there. 5 pitch walk then 3 K’s on 9 pitches. I don’t know if I can watch this shit

  • Crockett

    Castro…totally predictable.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Man….wish Sweeney would of swung at that first pitch…..Right down the freaking middle

  • kridertr

    So is bill mueller’s new hitting approach to take first pitch cockshot fastballs?

  • kridertr

    So what happened with the no challenges after the 6th inning? There’s been a number of challenges in the later innings that shouldn’t be allowed or is it just me? Either let them challenge thru the whole game or stick to the initial rule

    • blublud

      Its up to the umpire after the 7th I believe. But this replay crap is stupid. Just play the game. Statheads want to remove the human element, now the league wants to remove human error. Just dumb.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Reviewable cause throw pulled fielder off bag

    • gocatsgo2003

      Are you just talking to yourself now?

      • Diehardthefirst

        The reply button malfunctions – was replying to why replay?

  • blublud

    Bonifacio showing that sometimes its just about making contact and seeing what happens.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    For all the arm chair managers who have been talking shit about Valbuena he has three hits tonight. My take on Castro is that they should have put him on the DL instead of rushing him back. And as for Bonafacio I am speechless. Darwin had better get used to riding the pine.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Castro is hearing Baezs foot steps is why

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        For sure!

      • mjhurdle

        i like that we can now explain both good and bad performances by the mysterious footstep sounds.
        Castro does well? Obviously he is hearing Baez’s footsteps
        Castro does poorly? Obviously he is hearing Baez’s footsteps

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

          Really…it applies for everyone.

      • Picklenose

        I’m afraid that Sevum/Deer destroyed Castro. I hope it was temporary.

  • blublud

    How much longer will Bonifacio be hitting .800/.800/.900/1.700. This guy makes Trout look horrible.

    • ssckelley

      Think the Angels will swap with us?

      • blublud

        This guy is a super star, why would you wanna swap?

        • ssckelley

          Think the Angels could kick in a prospect?

          • blublud

            It would take Trout, Taylor Lindsey, RJ Alvarez and Hunter Green. I might do those four for Bonifacio.

  • ssckelley

    Nice hit Lake, now we bunt right?

    • ssckelley

      Ugh, why even pinch hit with Barney if you are bunting?

  • Jason P

    I will be thrilled if the Cubs are 2-24 w/RISP at the end of this inning.

  • blublud

    I would intentionally walk a guy with a 1.700 OPS in this situation also.

    • ssckelley

      You don’t see that every day

  • blublud

    Castro’s time to make up.

  • Jason P

    Castro looks like a pitcher at the plate

  • blublud

    Yea. So, how bout that, you anti-bunt guys.

    • ssckelley

      They still would not have scored.

    • mjhurdle

      I agree blublud. barney would have had a better AB if he didn’t put himself in a hole bunting foul trying to advance the runner, and we score there instead of doing nothing.

  • blublud

    Rizzo with the bomb.

  • ssckelley

    Castro makes that catch

  • another JP

    I can’t stand this crap. ..

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

      I tell myself that every team deals with it.

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

    That is sooooooo cubs. New closer’s first save opportunity and he blows it.

    Fuck…why, God, did you curse me with being a Cubs fan?

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Word.

      So how do we lose? Give up a hit to their best player? Wild pitch, walk? Passed ball or other error?

      • half_full_beer_mug

        None of the above, outstanding

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

    Cue Veras hate

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

    You have to think that Theo and Jed are throwing shit somewhere.

  • http://chicagocubsblog.tumblr.com/ Walking Blue Bear

    isnt baker still on the bench?

  • lnfihDeL

    That game is over and the players are sleeping if Castro can field a grounder.

    *sigh*

    • spearman

      Maybe he can get a hit tomorrow.

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