Game One Hundred Forty: Cubs (53-86) vs. Pirates (72-66)
Game Time – 12:35pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/914
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Chris Rusin (0-2, 9.00/2.00) vs. Jeff Locke (0-1, 4.82/0.96)
The Cubs will shoot to complete the three-game sweep over the Pirates this afternoon behind Chris Rusin. Today is the Cubs last game of the year in Pittsburgh. The Cubs have four more against the Pirates at Wrigley Field starting Friday afternoon.
Today’s finale features two rookie left-handers that are both looking for their first big league win. Chris Rusin makes his third start of the year while Jeff Locke is making just his second Major League start of the season. Beginning this afternoon, the Cubs are scheduled to face three southpaws in the next four games.
Brett Jackson will likely be held out of the starting lineup for the second straight day. Jackson crashed into the wall during the sixth inning of Friday’s game. According to multiple reports, Jackson is fine, just a little sore and dealing with a bruised right knee. Starlin Castro’s status for this afternoon’s game is unknown. Castro was hit by a pitch in his right hand/wrist in the ninth inning of Saturday night’s game. X-rays came back negative and he should be in Sveum’s starting lineup.
In other news … With Jeff Samardzija shut down for the season, the Cubs rotation over the last 23 games, for now, looks like Chris Rusin, Chris Volstad, Justin Germano, Travis Wood and Jason Berken. Chris Rusin is scheduled to make his Wrigley Field debut on Friday against the Pirates and Jason Berken is expected to make his Cubs’ debut in six days against the Bucs. Berken caught up with his new team on Saturday.
Darwin Barney did not commit an error in Saturday night’s game and set a new National League mark of 124 straight games without an error by a second baseman. Barney broke Ryne Sandberg’s team and National League record of 123 consecutive games without an error at second base. Sandberg set the Cubs and NL mark over two seasons. Sandberg did not commit an error from June 21, 1989 through May 17, 1990. Placido Polanco holds the single-season errorless streak by a second baseman. Polanco went 141 games without an error for the Tigers during the 2007 season.
The Cubs made more changes in the organization on Saturday. The Cubs dismissed six coaches from their minor league system. Dave Bialas, Casey Kopitzke, Barbaro Garbey, Frank Castillo, Marty Mason and Jason Dubois will not return to the organization next season.
This afternoon it all starts with Chris Rusin … Chris Rusin makes his third big league start this afternoon and it is safe to say the first two were exact opposites. Rusin held the Brewers to one run on one hit with two walks, two hit batsmen and four strikeouts in five innings of work. Rusin had good mound presence and the lone run scored on an infield single. Rusin recorded only two outs in his last start and his one-plus innings start was the shortest by the Cubs this season.
Chris Rusin could not locate a breaking pitch for a quality strike. Simply put, Rusin does not have the stuff to throw from behind and still try to get hitters out. Rusin must throw strikes, hit his spots and have pinpoint command. Rusin did not against the Nationals and they torched him for five runs on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Chris Rusin is said to be in the mix for a rotation spot for next season and it’s up to him to take advantage of his opportunity.
Chris Rusin will make his first start against the Pirates this afternoon and no one on the Pirates’ roster has faced him in a big league game.
Lefty Jeff Locke is making his second start for the Pirates this season. Locke had a cup of coffee with Pittsburgh a year ago and posted a 0-3 record in four starts with a 6.48 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP. Baseball America ranked the 24-year old southpaw as the tenth best prospect in the Pirates system prior to the season. The Pirates acquired Jeff Locke in the Nate McLouth deal with the Braves back in 2009.
Locke posted a 10-5 record in 24 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Locke struck out 131 batters while walked only 43. In 141 2/3 innings, Locke surrendered 126 hits and just nine of those left the park. Locke does not overpower hitters but has good command. Locke throws a fastball in the high 80s to low 90s and features a curveball and changeup.
The Astros hit Locke pretty hard in his first start of the year. Locke allowed five runs on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts in five innings.
This afternoon will be Jeff Locke’s first appearance against the Cubs. Dave Sappelt (1-for-2 with a double) is the only player on Dale Sveum’s roster that has faced Locke in a big league game.
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