Lester has been a solid if expensive addition to the Cub staff, and has pitched better than his 10 wins would indicate. His last outing against the Bucs was a complete game gem, whipping JA Happ 2-1 at PNC, but that was followed but a whupping at the hands of the Cards. He's been tough on Pittsburgh in limited outings, with a lifetime 2-1/1.64 slash in three starts. The game begins at 2:20 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
Big series; aren't they all in September? But this one should have a razor sharp edge to it, with its playoff implications and the JHK injury still fresh in Bucco minds. The Cubs have won seven of nine and are 3-1/2 games behind the Pirates (who have won six in a row themselves) in the race for home-field advantage in the wild card matchup. We're really looking forward to three games of hardball (and Joe Maddon's fractured fairy tales) at Wrigley this weekend.
Clint sat on the lineup for awhile - he was letting A-Ram (groin) & Gregory (knee) get in some hitting and fielding to see if they were ready for action; apparently they are. Michael Morse is at first and Josh at second against the lefty Lester; Pedro & The Kid take ten..
- Starling Marte has 15 hits during his current five game hitting streak, raising his batting average from .278 to .293.
- The Cubs had an off day yesterday; it gave them the opportunity to skip Dan Haren in this series. Their magic number for a playoff spot is one.
- Chicago has won 10 of the first 16 games against the Pirates, so they've already clinched home-field advantage if the teams end up with the same record.
- Only a couple of old teammates in opposing unis today: A-Ram played for the Cubs (2003-11) and David Ross for the Bucs (40 games in 2005).
- Minor league managers Dean Treanor (Indy) and Tom Prince (Altoona) have joined the club today; it's not just the players' roster that expands...
- Wrigley Field received a bomb threat that was called in about an hour before the gates opened; the police gave an all clear after a quick sweep.