Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Saturday 4/2, 12:05 CT: It's Still Early

Carlos Pena of the Chicago Cubs digs a throw out of the dirt before Jose Tabata of the Pittsburgh Pirates can get to the base during opening day at Wrigley Field on April 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Hey, ledge jumpers!

Yesterday was one game. Yes, bad managerial decisions and bad performance led to a loss. The 2008 Cubs lost on Opening Day, too (and in just about as bad weather conditions). So did the 2007 Cubs. Yes, I am well aware this team has flaws, but I still believe it is a better team than last year's. How about the defending champion Giants? They're 0-2. Or the Seattle Mariners? They're not a very good team, but they won on Opening Day (yes, mostly because of King Felix). They must be on their way to the World Series! And the White Sox, if they had given the Indians a couple more innings, might have blown a 14-0 lead.

Let's at least look at this team for a couple of weeks before we pass judgment on the 2011 season. And if any of you are riding the Red Line to the game, let us know if you see Mike Quade on the train. (And tell him he needs to get Ryan Dempster out of games before he's thrown too many pitches.)

Today, Carlos Zambrano will make his season debut on the mound -- the first time since 2004 that he has not started the first game of the season. Let's hope that keeps him more focused on the game itself, rather than all the Day One hoopla.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
Cubs
vs. Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm
Pirates
11-6 W-L 9-15
3.33 ERA 5.10
117 SO 102
69 BB 62
7 HR 15
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

Stats are 2010 final season stats

Carlos Zambrano, a new man and pitcher when he returned to the rotation after his stay on the restricted list last year, gets his first start of 2011 today against the Pirates, a team he has a somewhat mediocre lifetime record against (12-8, 4.02 in 30 career appearances, 26 of which were starts). Andrew McCutchen, who homered yesterday, is 5-for-7 lifetime against Big Z and Ryan Doumit is 8-for-18.

Paul Maholm figured to be the Pirates' Opening Day starter, but Kevin Correia outplayed him in spring training, so Maholm starts on Day Two. He has an odd record vs. the Cubs -- a 7-2 won/lost record, but an unsightly 6.42 ERA, a 1.55 WHIP and 10 HR allowed in 74.2 innings. It would be nice to see that kind of hitting out of the Cubs today. Current Cubs are hitting .364 against Maholm (47-for-129) with 7 HR, four by Alfonso Soriano (8-for-28) and two by Aramis Ramirez (10-for-30). Jeff Baker, who gets the 2B start today, is 6-for-10 off Maholm.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and ROOT Sports, which is a new name for three of the old FSN regional networks (Pittsburgh, Seattle and Denver). Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 12 noon CDT and the overflow threads will post at 1 pm, 2 pm and 2:45 pm CDT. These time frames will be pretty standard for most regular season games this year -- game preview about two hours to game time, a first pitch thread (on the front page) at game time, and then overflows at an hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time (approximately). If you need more overflows due to rain delays or extra innings, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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