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wrigley field from right bleachersAs guessed, last night’s game didn’t go well for either Edwin Jackson or Charlie Morton on facing the same team twice in a row. Hopefully that’s true again tonight for Wandy Rodriguez, but, like, not true for Jason Hammel. Because he was very good last time out against the Pirates.

The lineup is back to the “against lefty” version, with Starlin Castro slid back up to the two-hole after finding success batting sixth against righties. I probably would have just left him down there for now, but it’s not a huge deal so long as Castro doesn’t change his approach.

Mike Olt and Junior Lake get starts tonight, as expected. I desperately hope they each blow up with a few homers apiece so that each side of the pro and anti-platoon crowds will have ammo.

The Cubs need to win tonight to avoid ensuring that they will lose their third consecutive series to open the season. They needed an exceptionally hot start to stave off the midseason selling plans, and we haven’t seen it yet.

Game Info

Pittsburgh Pirates (5-2) at Chicago Cubs (2-5), 7:05 CT on WGN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. 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

Wandy Rodriguez (4.50 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 3.09 xFIP; 5.00 K/BB)

versus

Jason Hammel (1.35 FIP, 2.17 FIP, 3.84 xFIP; 5.00 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. Wandy Rodriguez, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Justin Ruggiano, RF

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Mike Olt, 3B

6. Junior Lake, LF

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jason Hammel, P

  • Fishin Phil

    I hope Barney goes 3 for 3 with a walk just to really screw things up!

    • 5RunHomerun

      Hell, I’d just be happy with the walk.

  • 5RunHomerun

    You have Hammel with two FIP’s and no ERA. You might want to fix that.

  • E

    I’m beginning to wonder what Castro’s day/night splits look like, especially when it comes to fielding.

  • ssckelley

    I am not a big fan of Castro in the #2 spot, wish RR would keep him in the 6 hole. Put Lake or Barney in the 2 spot, preferably Barney as he has been more patient at the plate so far this year and does make contact (just not always good contact).

    • Blackhawks1963

      Tough to fill out the lineup card against a good left-handed starting pitcher if you are Ricky and the Cubs. I understand Castro in the number two hole against lefties.

    • David

      I agree, leave him at 6. He’ll be 6th or 7th when the cubs are good in 2 years.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    Nice to see a better game in iowa today, but the team SO rate is getting disturbing. 14 yesterday and 11 more today.

    • ssckelley

      It doesn’t help when the ICubs start 2 guys that each SO 2-3 times per game.

      • itzscott

        I’ve got a strong hunch that the Cubs are doing at Iowa what they tried to get Castro to do last year and the initial results are similar.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Why is it disturbing? Seriously? The only guy that matters in that department is the “true” prospects in Baez, Alcantara and Villenueva. Brett Jackson is a bust and nobody any longer gives a rip if he K’s 3 or 4 times a day.

    • 5RunHomerun

      The strikeouts aren’t good, but they did draw four walks today. Also, only two players had multiple strikeouts, and the team launched two home runs. 11 strikeouts looks bad. 11 strikeouts , 4 walks, and 2 home runs is passable. Want to see problematic? Look at the other team. Pimentel, Rosscup, and Hatley combined for 16 strikeouts and only 1 walk.

      Overall this season, the strikeouts are a little concerning. However, they’ve only played a few games. I’ll give it a few weeks before I really get worried.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        16 strikeouts is pretty amazing, so we’ll take the bad with the good, and in this game the good won…still hate to see all those strikeouts.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I don’t think Pittsburgh can think of themselves as real contenders yet say Travis Friggin Ishikawa is their first baseman. Yeesh.

    • Funn Dave

      Hey, I’m not complaining.

  • Medicos

    Everyday game needs Boni at 2B, Lake in CF, Olt at 3rd and whoever RR wants in LF. Barney will never be a successful MLB hitter. He’s been given the opportunity and has proven he can’t hit. Now it’s time to see if Lake and Olt can hit.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      We have the problem of having two 2nd basemen (3 if you consider Valbuena) that need playing time. I would prefer to find a buyer for Barney, but you just can’t do that with him on the bench all the time.

      If Boni can keep this up a little longer and get a good return in trade I wouldn’t mild going with a Barney/Valbuena platoon at 2nd until we can trade Barney to a team needing help by midseason. The shame of it is, by trading Barney we have far more mid-season options – shift Boni to the outfield when Baez arrives with Valbuena backing up 3rd and 2nd base.

  • WilliamGlass721

    I sure hope there’s a fair strike zone tonight. I am tired of seeing umpires hose us!

  • JL82

    Why is Ruggiano always batting 3rd when he starts? Have Rizzo batting 3rd with Olt in the 4th spot. Ruggiano at best be in the 7th spot in this lineup.

    • MightyBear

      I agree JL82. He came up with men on several times during the game Saturday and didn’t do jack. He needs to bat further down until he starts hitting. And with his approach now, it could be awhile.

  • BlameHendry

    WHYYY does Happy keep batting Ruggiano 3rd??? He doesn’t fit there at all, not in any major-league line-up anywhere against any pitcher!! He should be between 5th or lower and Rizzo should almost always be in the 3 spot.

    • ssckelley

      I am glad you asked, it was so he could drive in Bonifacio in the first inning.

      :D

      • JL82

        WoW 1st hit of the season

      • BlameHendry

        so that 3% chance happened. Great! I still don’t wanna see him in the 3 spot anymore.

  • MightyBear

    Good start. I really want a W tonight.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Speed Kills

    • WilliamGlass721

      I said the exact same thing out loud after he flew around the bases! :-)

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Anyone know of any free streaming sites where I could watch Cubs game possibly. Streamhunter and Firstrow don’t seem to be currently working for the Cubs game. Any other possible sites that anyone knows its streaming on?

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I use MLBTV but my account isn’t working for some reason and need a last resort

  • BlameHendry

    Man its fun watching Bonifacio this year. Can’t really call him a “comeback player” because he’s never been as good as he is right now. But it’s always cool to watch a guy completely defy the odds.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Edwards pitching for the Smokies tonight. You can listen live, via the internet. There’s a link on the MiLB app, in you’re using an iPhone .

  • Jason P

    How about a knock right here?

    • Jason P

      Ugh. Well at least he hit it hard.

    • ThatCubsGuy

      Thought that was going to find the line…..damn

      • mjhurdle

        Agree, had to log in from the bar just to say how awesome that play was

        • mjhurdle

          Damn you mobile app, this was a reply to something else

  • Danny Ballgame

    What a play by Castro

  • C. Steadman

    And some people on here want to trade him…

    • C. Steadman

      now he’s just showing off

    • cubbiehawkeye

      Yep….and as I’ve said in the past I don’t understand that logic. He’s young and talented.

      • Kyle

        That’s why we *might* want to trade him.

        You don’t get good things by trading crappy, old, untalented players.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Maybe we can get Barney one of the Mission Impossible masks so he looks like Boni. Then maybe we can trade him.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    You can’t play that any better than that!!!

  • E

    Castro is feeling it tonight…

  • Greenroom

    Castro is all over it. Looks like he has gotten his confidence back.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Mike Olt, where’d you go???

    • BlameHendry

      Yeah maybe he shoulda spent the first month at AAA…

      • Jason P

        I don’t think it would have made a difference.

    • C. Steadman

      but i do like me some reverse-jinxes

  • drew

    Baez 2-4 tonight. Hopefully getting back to his old Baezy self.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Jackson & Vitters with homers.

  • Jon

    Tanaka through 2 starts 18 Ks 1BB :(

    • cubsfan08

      Hammel’s ERA is 0.84 :)

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Wait till the second time through the league.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      I just stuck another pin in my Tanaka voodoo doll.

  • BlameHendry

    Since I don’t believe in Jinxes, Hammel is perfect through 4.

    • C. Steadman

      you just had too didn’t you…

      • C. Steadman

        to*

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Blame BlameHendry!!! Grrr!!

    • cubsfan08

      You are suspended from commenting the rest of the night…

      • C. Steadman

        and during every game until the Cubs SP loses his perfect/no-no

    • BlameHendry

      I guess I should start believing in jinxes…. Dammit >.<

      • C. Steadman

        haha and of course it would be off a HR…

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      I don’t either, but if I did, I’d say you just royally screwed up.

  • JasonP

    That HR is my fault, dropped my girlfriend at the airport; returned home surprised to see Hammel had 12 up 12 down.

    First batter I see takes the shutout, no-no, and perfect game away in one swing.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      You’re right. As a true fan, you need to drive back out to the airport, wait at the Kiss ‘n’ Fly until the game is over, then return.

      • JasonP

        I’d rather Blame Hendry than drive back to the airport

  • Jason P

    Ishikawa loves to chirp to the umpire.

    • JasonP

      Nice name

      • Jason P

        Haha and same back to you. Now you just have to get my avatar and we can really confuse people…

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    Really? “Clear the deck, cannonball coming”? That’s the Brewer’s home run call? Wow… I’m sad. Poor Brewers’ fans.

  • JasonP

    a little BABIP regression to the mean there for RIzzo

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Let’s hope he regresses so much that 2013-2014 are in balance.

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