Game One Hundred Forty-Four: Cubs (56-87) vs. Pirates (72-70)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Chris Rusin (0-2, 5.73/1.82) vs. James McDonald (12-7, 3.93/1.22)
The Cubs return to the field this afternoon following a much-needed day off. The Cubs completed a difficult stretch of 20 games in 20 days with a 9-11 record and finished the 10-game road trip with five wins and five losses.
The Cubs open a 10-game homestand this afternoon with the first of four against the Pirates. The four-game series wraps around to Monday before the Reds make their last trip of the season to Wrigley. The homestand concludes with three against the the Cardinals next weekend.
The Cubs swept the three-game series last weekend in Pittsburgh and are 6-6 against the reeling Bucs this season. The Pirates have dropped six games in a row and Clint Hurdle’s team is on the verge of not only being out of the Wild Card race but also dropping below .500.
The Cubs will not face A.J. Burnett during this series and as of now, the Cubs have decided to skip Justin Germano this time through the rotation. After today’s matchup of Chris Rusin and James McDonald, Jason Berken will make his Cubs’ debut on Saturday afternoon against Wandy Rodriguez. Chris Volstad is expected to face lefty Jeff Locke on Sunday afternoon and right now Travis Wood is scheduled to face Kevin Correia in Monday night’s finale.
Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson are expected to return to the starting lineup this afternoon. Jackson has been out since his collision with the wall in Pittsburgh last Friday night. Rizzo was available for Wednesday’s finale in Houston after his scary collision with Brett Wallace on Tuesday night.
The Cubs have just 13 home games remaining on the schedule … and this afternoon it all starts with Chris Rusin in his first game at Wrigley Field. Chris Rusin rebounded nicely from his start against the Nationals and put together a solid five-innings outing in Pittsburgh. Rusin did his job and kept his team in the game. The rookie southpaw allowed one run on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts to the Bucs over five innings. One of the keys for Rusin this afternoon is how he will adjust to facing a team for the second at the big league level.
This afternoon is Rusin’s first appearance on the mound at Wrigley Field. Rusin’s first three starts came on the road.
Chris Rusin left last Sunday’s game in line for his first win. Rusin threw strikes and did not pitch from behind in the count that often. Rusin must pound the strike zone and keep the ball down … especially to Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.
Pirates Career Numbers against Chris Rusin
- Pedro Alvarez – 1-for-2
- Clint Barmes – 0-for-1 with a walk
- Brock Holt – 1-for-3
- Garrett Jones – 1-for-3
- Starling Marte – 0-for-3
- Andrew McCutchen – 1-for-2 with a home run and a walk
- Michael McKenry – 0-for-2
- Gaby Sanchez – 0-for-1 with a walk
James McDonald is one of the main reasons that the Pirates played so well for the first four months of the season. McDonald has really struggled of late and is coming off a no decision to the Cubs. McDonald allowed three runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts on the night Jeff Samardzija shut the Pirates down after the first inning. McDonald was taken off the hook after a Starlin Castro error led to the Pirates tying the game.
After posting a 2-1 record in five starts in August with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, McDonald is 0-1 in his last two starts with a 10.80 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP … since the break, 3-4 in 11 starts with a 6.91 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP.
James McDonald has struggled all season on the road. McDonald owns a 6-5 record in 14 starts outside of PNC Park with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.
This afternoon will be McDonald’s third start of the season, first at Wrigley, against the Cubs. McDonald is 0-1 in the first two with a 6.17 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. For his career, McDonald owns a 0-2 mark in six games, five starts, with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP … at Wrigley Field, 0-1 in one start with a 5.40 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against James McDonald
- Darwin Barney – 4-for-13 with a walk
- Tony Campana – 2-for-3 with a double
- Welington Castillo – 1-for-3 with a double
- Starlin Castro – 4-for-14 with a home run and a walk
- David DeJesus – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Bryan LaHair – 0-for-3
- Joe Mather – 0-for-2
- Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-5
- Dave Sappelt – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-10 with two home runs and a walk
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-4 with a walk
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