RECORDS: Pirates 44-45 Cubs 47-43
GAMETIMES: Friday-Sunday 1:20
TV: NBCSN Friday, WGN Saturday, ABC 7 Sunday
CANDELARIA’S CADRE: Bucs Dugout
PROBABLE PIRATES LINEUP
Adam Frazier – 2B
Bryan Reynolds – LF
Starling Marte – CF
Josh Bell – 1B
Melky Cabrera – RF
Colin Moran – 3B
Kevin Newman – SS
Jacob Stallings – C
PROBABLE CUBS LINEUP
Kyle Schwarber – LF
Javier Baez – SS
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Victor Caratini – C
Jason Heyward – RF
Robel Garcia – 2B
Albert Almora Jr. – CF
The Cubs begin the post-break schedule, hoping the rest and now shorter half of the slate will rouse them from their season-long slumber/malaise/absence of give-a-fuck. Perhaps the sight of the team their manager is trying to drum up a rivalry with out of nothing will act as the greenie they need.
And that will be the main story for the weekend, whether the Pirates and Cubs get into more mishegas about pitches inside and whether or not they are throwing at each other. Maddon was clearly trying to get some jump from his team with his theatrics over the July 4th holiday, but his team certainly needed it. There’s no question that Clin Turtle is something of a red-ass, and the Pirates do seem to find themselves in the middle of these more often than other teams. They’ve already been in it with the Cubs and Reds this year, and other teams had something to say.
You’d like to think the Cubs have bigger fish to fry. They’ve dicked around all season and yet find themselves in first, but they can’t expect the Brewers and even Cardinals to keep their head inserted in their rectum for the rest of the year either. It would seem over the top to try and get your manager fired by missing out on the playoffs by open lengths, and if the Cubs were going to make that move anyway they would have done it this week. So Maddon and his team are stuck together, if indeed that’s what it is, so they might as well get on with it.
To the more important stuff. There was a moment there when Yu Darvish looked like he might be turning a corner, probably around when he struck out 10 Dodgers. But he hasn’t put in a quality start in the three since then, though he hasn’t gotten shelled in that badly in any of them either. The Cubs need him to start putting up quality starts again. From there it’ll be Lester and Quintana, and you know the story with them.
But really, it’ll be about whether or not the Cubs get hits when they need them, and can they find any reliever who can keep them in the game when they’re behind. A couple more hits and they at least split with the Pirates last week and take both of the games from the Sox. When they can line up Kintzler-Strop-Kimbrel you feel pretty good. But when trailing by a run and they have to roll out whatever’s left of Cishek and doofus-du-jour, they have problems. And they’ll have to solve them.
Thanks to a more than functional staff and Josh Bell, the Pirates are still in this (along with the Cubs and Brewers’ incompetence). With Reynolds and Newman joining the lineup, they’ve become uber-annoying for pitchers to navigate. But it’s enough of that, the Cubs just have to start beating whoever is front of them now, no excuses. Even if that starts with they highly tedious Pirates and Reds on this homestand.
Leave the bean-ball nonsense behind. The real work is at hand. Onwards…