Pitchers: Ivan Nova (12-8, 4.37; Pittsburgh 5-2, 3.49) faces Rob Zastryzny (1-0, 1.46). Ivan's been on a so-so streak, sizzling roll, and now a two-game stretch of labored starts, so what we get tonight is anyone's guess as he makes his last appearance before presumably diving into the FA pool. The Z-Man has worked 12-1/3 strong MLB innings from the pen and the rookie will be rewarded with his first big league start tonight. Though he started in AA-AAA (10-5, 4.31) this year, his longest stint in the show has been 3-2/3 IP and he hasn't thrown more than 49 pitches, so he'll probably be on a fairly short leash for the Cubbies. Joe Maddon already has plans to make this a bullpen game as he rests his guys some before the playoff gauntlet.
|Will Ivan be making his last Bucco start? (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: Jordy SS, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, S-Rod LF, David Freese 1B, Alen Hanson 2B, Eric Fryer C, Nova P. Hanson is getting a look at 2B; Fraze can drill a baseball, but catching one has proven a bit more problematic. Gregory is still out with a stiff neck, which we presume is a hangover from his previous face plant. Fran and Starling are prob down for the season, but it is nice to see Jordy back. And po' Jaso - he hits for the cycle and then the Cubs come back with a LHP. The home finale will offer an opp to see both teams benches on display tonight.
- There was a little glove controversy last night thx to an unorthodox bunt defense by the Cubbies, as explained by MLB.com.
- Combos you don't think of: John Jaso became the second player in major league history to catch a perfect game and hit for the cycle, joining Ray Schalk who puled of the feat in 1922 (he did it in the same season). JJ caught Felix Hernandez’s perfecto in 2012. Jaso also became the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle/catch a no-hitter since Jason Kendall, who caught the Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon 10-inning no-hitter in 1997, and hit for the cycle, also for the Buccos, in 2000, per The Sporting News.
- Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs takes a look at Frankie's resurgence with Toronto.
- With the Royals' elimination from the AL Wild Card race yesterday, MLB's record for consecutive years without a repeat champion will reach 16.