The Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) set sail against the Chicago Cubs (97-65) tonight in the National League Wild Card match-up. Clint Hurdle’s squad went 53-28 along the North Shore this season.
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The Pirates faithful will bring the noise this evening as the Bucs enjoy their third straight home Wild Card Game. It should be noted that Pittsburgh went 8-11 against Joe Maddon’s squad from the North Side of the Windy City.
Pittsburgh won the final three-game series of the regular season against Chicago 2-1 at the end of the September. They captured the first game on Friday, Sept. 25 3-2 and the second game on Saturday, Sept. 26 4-0.
The Cubs pitching staff was working on all cylinders as they permitted a total of nine runs during their eight-game winning streak to bring down the curtain on the regular season. The team went 48-33 overall this season on the road.
The last time these two hooked up was Sunday, Sept. 27 at Wrigley Field, and the Cubs came away with a 4-0 shutout of the Pirates.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 7
First Pitch: 8:00 p.m. ET
Site: PNC Park
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Regular Season Series: Cubs lead 11-8
Television Coverage: TBS
National Radio Coverage: ESPN Radio
Pirates Radio Coverage: KDKA-FM 93.7 – The Fan and the Pirates Radio Network
Pirates Announcers: Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Bob Walk, Steve Blass and John Wehner
Online Streaming: TBS.com
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 89, XM Channel 861
Social Media – Twitter: @pirates
Odds: Pirates +1.5 According To OddsShark Online Sportsbook with the Over/Under at 5.5.
Weather Channel Online Forecast: Partly cloudy with a low of 48. The chance of rain is zero percent and the winds will be light and variable.
Starting Pitchers: Chicago sends 29-year-old Jake Arrieta to the hill this evening. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander went 22-6 during the regular season with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. The Farmington, Missouri native struck out 236 over 229.0 innings pitched. He was 3-1 against the Pirates this season.
Pittsburgh will counter with 25-year-old Gerrit Cole. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander put up a 19-8 record over the summer of 2015 with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. The Newport Beach, California native struck out 202 over 208.0 innings pitched. He went 2-1 against the Cubs this season.
Key To Game: Defense The Cubs collected 111 errors with their fielding over 162 regular season games. They finished last in the National League in turning double plays, with only 120.
The Crew of the Jolly Roger recorded 122 errors over 162 contests, but were second in the N.L. in turning 177 double plays.
Each team has a weakness in their infield. Chicago’s Starlin Castro was fourth among N. L. shortstops and sixth overall in the league with 18 errors. For the Pirates, Pedro Alvarez was first among N.L. first basemen and second overall with 23 errors.
What the two Central Division rivals can hang the hats on is Defensive Runs Saved this year, according to Baseball Info Solutions. The Pirates were ranked fourth among N.L. teams in this category and the Cubs were right behind them in fifth place.
My Prediction: The Pirates prevail 3-2 over the Cubs in a close one along the North Shore.
The victor of tonight’s match-up gets to battle a familiar foe, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Redbirds were the leaders of the N.L. Central Division with a record of 100-62. The series begins on Friday, Oct. 9.