Game One Hundred Forty-Six: Cubs (62-83) vs. Pirates (84-61)
- Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 184/844
- Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Chris Rusin (2-3, 2.89/1.38/4.44) vs. Jeff Locke (9-5, 3.23/1.38/3.95)
The Cubs longest road trip in nearly a decade continues tonight with the first of four against the high-flying Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs took two of three from the Reds and will have an impact on the NL Central race for the next four days. The Cubs are 5-7 in the first 12 games of the year against the Bucs and will play a very different Pirates’ team than the one they last saw during the first week of July. The Cubs and Pirates square off seven times in the next 14 games.
The Pirates are coming off a three-game sweep over the Rangers in Texas and will play in front of their home crowd for the first time since notching their 82nd victory of the season and guaranteeing the team their first winning record in a generation. Since the Cubs last played the Pirates, Neal Huntington has added Gerrit Cole, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, John Buck and Felix Pie to a very good roster.
After tonight’s southpaw match-up of Chris Rusin and Jeff Locke, Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face Charlie Morton on Friday night. Scott Baker will make his second start of the season against Gerrit Cole on Saturday night and the second all-lefty game of the series will wrap up the series on Sunday when Travis Wood takes on Francisco Liriano.
Look for Dale Sveum to run out his right-handed lineup tonight and it might be a good day to give Anthony Rizzo a mental break. Brian Bogusevic, Welington Castillo or Dioner Navarro could handle first base for a game while Rizzo tries to shake off a .176/.310/.235/.667 September.
Tonight it all starts with Chris Rusin …
Chris Rusin is coming off his roughest outing of the season. Rusin had very little command of any of his pitches and could not find a rhythm whatsoever. Rusin did pick up his first two RBI of his career in the victory over the Brewers but he could not stay on the hill long enough due to his pitch count to qualify for the win.
Chris Rusin needs to finish the year on a positive note so he stays in the mix for a big league job next season and does not become an afterthought in the off-season. Rusin has shown a lot of improvement this year and a strong finish is imperative for him.
Like a majority of his teammates, Rusin has played much better on the road this season than at Wrigley Field. Rusin is 2-0 in five starts outside of Wrigley with a 1.63 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.
Chris Rusin makes his first start of the season against the Pirates tonight. Rusin faced the Pirates twice a year ago and posted a 1-0 record with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Chris Rusin
- Starling Marte – 1-for-6
- Garrett Jones – 1-for-5
- Andrew McCutchen – 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk
- Pedro Alvarez – 2-for-4
- Clint Barmes – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Gaby Sanchez – 1-for-3 with a double and a walk
- Jeff Locke – 1-for-2
- Jose Tabata – 1-for-1
Jeff Locke has seen both ends of the baseball spectrum this season. After starting the season 8-2 after his first 18 starts with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.13 and being named to the NL All-Star team, Locke struggled so bad in the second half that he was sent down to Triple-A to try to get him right and give him a breather. Locke is 1-3 in his last nine starts with a 5.89 ERA and a 1.98 WHIP.
Jeff Locke has not been very good at PNC Park this year and owns a 4-2 record in 13 starts with a 4.52 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. Teams are hitting more than 100 points better against Locke this season in his home park (.295) than on the road (.190).
The Cubs will see the Pirates’ other southpaw for the second time this season. Locke was more lucky than good at Wrigley Field back on June 9 in a game that the Cubs won 4-1. Locke gave up just one run on one hit in 5 2/3 innings but he walked seven batters with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Locke has three no decisions in three starts against the Cubs with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Jeff Locke
- Darwin Barney (.228) – 2-for-8 with a walk
- Anthony Rizzo (.251) – 3-for-7 with a double, a home run and two walks
- Starlin Castro (.284) – 0-for-7
- Dioner Navarro (.303) – 1-for-1 with two walks
- Welington Castillo (.353) – 0-for-1
- Donnie Murphy (.309) – 0-for-1
- Chris Rusin (.143) – 0-for-2
- Ryan Sweeney (.309) – 0-for-2
- Luis Valbuena (.246) – 0-for-2
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …