Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 03/31/14

Opening Day – Game One: Cubs (0-0) vs. Pirates (0-0)

  • Game Time – 12:05pm CDT
  • Coverage – TV: WGN TV, ESPN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 183, 844
  • Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Jeff Samardzija (0-0, -.–/-.–/-.–) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-0, -.–/-.–/-.–)

Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the Air! It’s Opening Day!

OpeningDay-2014Rick Renteria and the Chicago Cubs kickoff the season this afternoon in what could be a very interesting year for the big league team. While the win-loss record might not be where some would like for it to be at the end of the year, the team should show improvement on the field, especially after players are promoted from the minors.

Rick Renteria and a majority of his coaching staff make their official Cubs’ debuts today. Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach, assistant pitching coach) and Mike Borzello (catching coach) were retained in the off-season while Brandon Hyde (bench coach), Bill Mueller (hitting coach), Mike Brumley (assistant hitting coach), Gary Jones (third base coach), Eric Hinske (first base coach) and Jose Castro (quality assurance coach) coach their first regular season games today.

Jeff Samardzija takes the hill for his second straight Opening Day start. And thanks to the schedule makers, Samardzija becomes the first pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days in the history of PNC Park.

The Cubs have really struggled against the NL Central for the last two-plus seasons and managed just a 25-51 record versus the central last year and won seven of the 19 games against the Pirates (7-12). In order for the Cubs to improve their win-loss record, they have to figure out how to beat the teams in their own division (14-18 vs. East, 14-20 vs. West, 13-7 in Interleague).

The Pirates have a lot planned for pre-game ceremonies. Ralph Kiner’s son is throwing out the first pitch. Jim Leyland will present Clint Hurdle with his Manager of the Year award and Barry Bonds will be at PNC Park to honor Andrew McCutchen and present him with his Most Valuable Player of the Year trophy.

The 2014 season all starts with Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija is coming off an inconsistent season one in which he set career highs in strikeouts (214), innings pitched (213 2/3) and games started (33). Samardzija is focused on becoming the starting pitcher he thinks he can be this season. Samardzija has shown the ability to be a dominating starter in the majors and if he can put it all together he could be a very good top of the rotation starter for many seasons. Now, whether that is with the Cubs or not, that is an entirely different question and one that should be answered on or before July 31.

Samardzija faced the Pirates five times last season with the only win against the Bucs coming on Opening Day. Samardzija was 1-3 a year ago versus Pittsburgh with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. For his career, Samardzija is 4-3 in 18 games, seven starts, against the Pirates with a 2.11 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP … at PNC Park, 4-1 in nine games, four starts, with a 0.73 ERA and a 0.51 WHIP.

Pirates Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija

  • Andrew McCutchen: 9-for-24 with three doubles and four walks
  • Neil Walker: 5-for-22 with one triple, two home runs and three walks
  • Pedro Alvarez: 5-for-22 with one double and one home run
  • Starling Marte: 4-for-16 with one walk
  • Russell Martin: 3-for-13 with one double and two walks
  • Clint Barmes: 0-for-11
  • Gaby Sanchez: 1-for-10
  • Jose Tabata: 2-for-10
  • Jordy Mercer: 0-for-6 with three walks
  • Travis Snider: 1-for-7
  • Francisco Liriano: 1-for-3 with one walk
  • Josh Harrison: 0-for-1

Francisco Liriano is coming off a tremendous season with the Pirates, one not many think he will be able to repeat. Liriano was 16-8 in 26 starts with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP while striking out 163 batters with only 63 walks allowed. Liriano has always had the stuff; he simply has not been able to throw enough strikes. Liriano loved pitching at PNC Park a year ago. Liriano was 8-1 in 11 home starts with a 1.47 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP compared to 8-7 in 15 road starts with a 4.33 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.

Liriano faced the Cubs five times last season and dominated them just about every time out. Liriano was 3-1 in five starts with a 2.12 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP … the Cubs managed only 19 hits with 15 walks while striking out 36 times in 34 innings.

Cubs Career Numbers against Francisco Liriano

  • Starlin Castro: 2-for-17 with two doubles and two walks
  • Darwin Barney: 2-for-15 with one double and three walks
  • Anthony Rizzo: 2-for-14 with two walks
  • Welington Castillo: 3-for-8 with one home run and one walk
  • Ryan Sweeney: 0-for-9
  • Junior Lake: 1-for-5 with one walk
  • Jeff Samardzija: 0-for-3
  • Justin Ruggiano: 1-for-3

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt