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The best part about an early day game after a marathon night game? No time to linger on a crappy loss. The worst part? No time to do anything else, either.

The Cubs will try to salvage one game in this opening series in Pittsburgh (if they can get the game off – rain threatens all day). Jason Hammel is to make his Cubs debut, and given the aforementioned marathoning, the Cubs could probably stand to have him go a little deep into this one. Oh, and to hit about seven dingers to help stave off extra innings.

The lineup features a bunch of righties this time around to face lefty Wandy Rodriguez, including Justin Ruggiano, who is finally over his ankle issue (hopefully). He might be the Cubs’ best bat against lefties. Mike Olt and Junior Lake are also back in there.

John Baker is an obvious exception (he bats lefty), but Welington Castillo caught the entire 16-inning affair last night.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (0-2) at Pittsburgh Pirates (2-0), 11:35 CT on CSN and MLBN.

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

Jason Hammel (4.97 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 4.56 xFIP in 2013, 2.00 K/BB)

versus

Wandy Rodriguez (3.59 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 4.00 xFIP in 2013, 3.83 K/BB); shut down early season with forearm problems)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Travis Snider, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

5. Neil Walker, 2B

6. Travis Ishikawa, 1B

7. Tony Sanchez, C

8. Jordy Mercer, SS

9. Wandy Rodriguez, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Justin Ruggiano, RF

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Junior Lake, LF

6. Mike Olt, 3B

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. John Baker, C

9. Jason Hammel, P

  • terencemann

    Am I the only one who thinks the Cubs will acutually be in good shape if this is the worst things get this season? These are really close games against a team who is definitely much better than the Cubs and it seems like they’re just getting unlucky when it comes to the sequence of making a mistake at the wrong time or not stringing together base-runners at the right time. I’m guessing Bonifacio won’t continue to lead MLB in hitting but at least there are signs that the team is getting off to the right start when it comes to playing the game a little better.

    I was impressed with Lake’s double last night. For someone who’s so raw, it was cool to see him whip the bat through the zone on an inside pitch and drill it down the line. That seems like a pitch a lot of guys would wiff on.

    • Cyranojoe

      Yesyeyyesyesyes! This this this this. I am very happy with a Cubs team that’s only losing one-run games to a very good Pittsburgh squad. Considering what we’ve been told to expect (and what both eyeball & statistics tests tell us), this is actually a very solid start to the season. Absolutely, winning close games would be better, but so far the team’s been doing better than advertised, honestly.

  • bazfan1234

    I am still scratching my head on why RR used Castillo yesterday with a right-handed pitcher instead of Baker. Now Baker will face a left-handed pitcher instead of the right matchup.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      I’m sure that Castillo would have played today if the game hadn’t gone 16 innings, can’t predict that kind of thing, but I wouldn’t have hated Baker getting the start yesterday.

    • Jason P

      It was the second game of the season. Castillo’s probably a better hitter than Baker even with the platoon disadvantage. And it’s not like RR knew it would go 16.

      • bazfan1234

        Agree on the platoon disadvantage but I doubt Castillo would have started a day game directly after a night game (regardless of the innings).

        • Cyranojoe

          Good point.

    • Thomas

      My guess is that if last nights game hadn’t turned into a marathon Castillo would be in the lineup today. He is the starter and capable of catching three days in a row.

  • willis

    I scratch my head as to why Barney ever gets playing time. I feel for Olt today…with Barney and Baker behind him, he will see nothing to hit.

    • Crockett
      • cking6178

        There’s a difference between Cano hitting 3rd with a “cleanup” caliber hitter behind him and Olt batting 6th with a “Barney” caliber hitter behind him…that article doesn’t prove anything…bat Cano 3rd in our lineup with Rizzo batting behind him vs batting him in front of Barney and show me those results…I guarantee Cano’s walk rate will dramatically increase…I hate the use of “selective” statistics…anybody can make numbers fit their narrative – politicians do it all the time…the idea is to let the data speak for itself

        • Crockett

          People smarter than both of us have shown it doesn’t exist.

          The difference is I am smart enough to defer to them…you obviously are not.

          • cking6178

            Ahh, yes…when in doubt always resort to insults…way to really stand your ground and argue your point…I don’t see where I did anything to warrant you to question my intelligence…

        • mjhurdle

          “I hate the use of “selective” statistics…anybody can make numbers fit their narrative”

          The problem is that you can’t find numbers to support the idea that lineup protection is a real thing.
          There is data that suggests that the quality of the batter after you does not affect your results at the plate. There is not data (that i have seen) to suggest it does.
          The idea of lineup protection seems to make sense. It seems logical that pitchers might treat batters differently based on who was batting next. But so far, what I have read (and I haven’t read everything so maybe Im missing something) indicates that it doesn’t happen. I think pitchers throw pitches to get the guy at the plate out the most effective way possible, regardless of who is in the on-deck circle.

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

            I think, historically, lineup protection was much more of a thing.

            Even today, you may see some managers that agree with it/use it on a pitching standpoint; however, I think that is relegated to the less-statistically-inclined teams.

            Plus you will still have outliers, Stanton in Miami, where they will be pitched around more but most teams don’t have a super-stud followed by a sub-replacement level batter enough to really skew any numbers.

            Lineup protection is more of a before-the-hitter thing. In that if you can get a guy on base, it means A LOT more to a hitter than if he has Ruth hitting behind him.

          • cking6178

            mj – Actually, I tend to agree with you…my comment about “selective statistics” was more a comment on the article that Crockett posted…Cano is, as hansman so eloquently put it, a “super-stud”…he’s going to hit regardless of where you put him in the lineup…I do think that he’d see a lot more IBB’s if Barney were hitting behind him though…

            I would love to see a study, though I’m not sure how you’d “control” the environment, where you put a moderately good hitter with power (Olt?) and measure his statistics when he has a “Barney” hitting behind him vs when he has somebody more legit (Rizzo?) hitting behind him…and maybe measuring the hitter’s performance isn’t the correct approach…maybe the better measure would be the pitcher’s pitch selection in those given scenarios?? Pitch selection may be a better indicator of whether a pitcher changes his approach to a given batter based on who’s hitting behind him…

            But hey, apparently I’m not smart enough to understand that other smart people have already done some level of research on the topic, so clearly there are no opportunities in this area…

  • ChrisFChi

    I’m very happy to see Castro moved to the 2 spot. Didn’t think 3rd in the order is the spot for him

    • Thomas

      I don’t think Ruggiano is a 3 hole hitter either.

      • terencemann

        Ruggiano is probably hitting 3rd because of his pretty insane splits against LHP for his career. It’s not a very large sample but this is what he was acquired for.

      • Jon

        He is in this lineup.

    • DrReiCow

      I second this. I’ve been dying to see Castro back in the 2 hole. Hopefully he stays there.

      Moo.

  • candyland07

    Well the Cubs did score 3 runs and took 16 innings its was an improvement from game 1. but the Cubs will get swept. So my prediction Cubs 4 Pirates 6 and Castro gets his first hit and walk. 58 -104 is the goal to beat.

  • Petey28

    Please bring the DH to the NL

    • http://BN Sacko

      Agreed but it would be another out anyway on this team.

    • Edwin

      That might mean eliminating one of the Cubs best hitters.

      • terencemann

        You could DH for Barney.

    • Unlucky 13

      Please don’t. The AL is so boring. I only watch NL baseball.

      • Edwin

        If you only watch NL baseball, how do you know the AL is so boring? I don’t think the excitement level changes much with either. You’re talking about 3-4 PA per game, maybe, per team that you would actually notice. Unless watching a pitcher strikeout, bunt, or occationally get a hit is so exciting that it’s worth giving up watching a better player hit.

  • IA_Colin

    I hate saying this about ML players but right now, I’d rather see Bonifacio play everyday at second, if he’s going to be in the lineup 90% of the time anyway. Rather see Sweeney or Kalish in OF even against lefties. But we have our mini Zobrist so play him everywhere!

  • kj1

    The segment about the Cubs on 60 Minutes Sports last night on Showtime was actually pretty good.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ve been looking for a comprehensive recap or a replay with no luck. I can tell that there wasn’t anything “sexy” in it, because the newswire didn’t light up last night. But, like you said, I bet it’s a really good watch. I’d like to see it.

    • Jon

      Man I really want to see this, but I’m not buying Showtime even for a month. Any options? Can you buy just the episode on iTunes or something?

      • kj1

        Overall it focused on the core of the Cubs, dedicated to winning and building from stratch. Just because we don’t see the results in Chicago yet that doesn’t mean they haven’t done some incedible things in a short period of time. Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein are on the same page and have a lot of respect for each other. At the end, they showed the clip with Beth Murphy followed by the Ricketts family.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    It is kind of impressive that we can inject 5 different plyers into the lineup today without significantly hurting the over all strengh.

    • cking6178

      Impressive or pathetic?

  • cking6178

    And Bonafacio with another hit!
    That said, I don’t like Olt batting 6th in front of Barney….He’ll never see a good pitch to hit…not sold on R-Squared’s lineup construction through 3 games

    • Crockett

      Yeah…you’re brilliant.

      Glad Wandy was pitching around him there…

      • Cyranojoe

        Totally! No good pitches to swing at, surely. ;)

        Good times, man, good times.

      • cking6178

        Crockett, get a life dude – you have nothing to add, apparently…did you see the pitch he hit out? It was a good pitch, meaning the pitcher executed his pitch as intended, but Olt just beat him…the thought is that the “protection” behind you entices the pitcher to not want to pitch to the batter behind you, thus giving you better pitches to hit (i.e. challenging you with fastballs)…you see Olt hit one out and quickly rush to show how “smart” you are, but fail to recognize sample size…Olt’s 1-3 so far today with a strikeout and weak fly ball…

  • itzscott

    Fear the Wand….

    If I recall, Wandy Rodriguez always owned the Cubs no matter who he played for or who was on the Cubs whenever he pitched.

    Wandy Rodriguez, last 5 years vs.
    Hitter AVG
    John Baker .000
    Darwin Barney .333
    Emilio Bonifacio .250
    Welington Castillo .333
    Starlin Castro .160
    Ryan Kalish - - - -
    Junior Lake - - - -
    Mike Olt - - - -
    Anthony Rizzo .300
    Justin Ruggiano .000
    Nate Schierholtz .000
    Ryan Sweeney - - - -
    Luis Valbuena .333

  • lnfihDeL

    A HIT with RISP.

    What is this, opposite day?!

  • Jamie Lannister

    Omg, Junior Lake lol. This season has been amazing so far.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Jeff Sullivan ‏@based_ball 3m
    Emilio Bonifacio has already tied his 2013 WAR http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4054&position=2B/OF

    Game 3.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Shows what ZIPS knows! 2 more at bats and he’ll be replacement level for the whole season.

      • blublud

        Thats not counting what he’ll lose next week when he goes 0-26.

  • Jon

    lol
    [img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BkT82UgCAAAozeP.png[/img]

    • smackafilieyo

      They sooo tired…haha

    • Jamie Lannister

      Oye, if I showed up without my white cloak while on duty, my head would be on a spike!

      • DocPeterWimsey

        +10 Geek Points.

        • Jamie Lannister

          Most courteous, Ser Wimsey.

  • BlameHendry

    #BonafacioMVP

  • BlameHendry

    MIKE OLT!!!!!!

  • Jason P

    Olt!!!

  • another JP

    Nice… the Olt & Rizzo show today!

  • Jamie Lannister

    Wow, Mike Olt can hit opposite field pop-fly homeruns…that could be useful.

    • Edwin

      Is it tough typing with just one hand?

      • Jamie Lannister

        Aye, but I’ve mastered the hunt and peck…same strategy I used to cut down the north haha!

  • Dustin S

    And opposite field, nice to see

  • http://BN Sacko

    Kalish not Barney I’m done with him last year already. Sweeny anybody.

  • Darth Ivy

    Steve Olt!

    • smackafilieyo

      Who is Steve Olt?

      • Funn Dave

        Steve Holt is a character on the television program Arrested Development. Mike Olt is a third baseman for the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

        • Picklenose

          [img]http://i.imgur.com/12t0BKg.png?2[/img]

  • Edwin

    Hammel is having a nice AB. Strikeout, but sees 10 pitches. I’ll take that.

  • another JP

    Anybody have an idea what the forecast looks like? It’s raining in Detroit and Cincy… need another 1-1/2 hours of game time to make it official.

  • Jon

    Pittsburgh is about to get nailed with the massive storm that has been moving across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Let’s quickly make this one an official game and get out of there.

    • Billy

      I live and work in Pittsburgh, it doesn’t look that serious yet. Hopefully it will hold off

  • Funn Dave

    I didn’t think we’d actually get to play today. Go Cubbies!

  • waittilthisyear

    bonifacio is a machine right now

  • another JP

    Emilio is a frickin’ base hit machine right now. Jeepers…

  • Jed Jam Band

    Bonifacio is the new MVP. Who needs McCutchen?

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