Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Friday 5/25, 6:05 CT

Joe Mather of the Chicago Cubs removes his helmet after he was left on third at the end of the top of the 6th inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

The Cubs have lost nine straight games, in which they have been outscored 55-27. During that streak they have been shut out once and scored just one run (each time on a solo homer) in two other games; they have scored a total of six runs over their last four games.

You think this is bad, and you'd be right about that.

Meet the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, who are hitting .217/.266/.346 as a team. They rank last in the major leagues in runs (126 -- 24 fewer than anyone else), BA, OBP and total bases, and first in batter strikeouts. They have scored one or no runs in 14 of their 44 games, and are likely holding on to their 20-24 record by means of being 11-9 in one-run games. That's a lot of one-run games at this point in the season -- almost half their total. They are on pace to score 464 runs, which would be the fewest in a non-labor-dispute season since the 1968 White Sox scored 463.

Of their regulars, Andrew McCutchen is hitting .338/.391/.543 -- All-Star level production. The rest of their everyday players have batting averages of .253, .221, .220, .219, .212, .203, .186 and .178.

Meanwhile, Pirates pitching ranks fourth in MLB in ERA and has an above-average ERA+ of 112 (the Cubs', by comparison, is 91).

All of this is another way of saying that I don't think either team can score any runs in this series. Someone will have to, of course; you can't have 0-0 ties in baseball. Ready for three 1-0 games?

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Castro SS, Mather CF, LaHair 1B, Soriano LF, Cardenas 3B, Barney 2B, Hill C, Dempster P

Pirates lineup:

Tabata LF, Harrison RF, McCutchen CF, Alvarez 3B, Walker 2B, Hague 1B, Barajas C, Barmes SS, Burnett P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
vs. A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett
0-2 W-L 2-2
2.28 ERA 4.78
44 SO 33
14 BB 10
3 HR 4
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

2012 - Ryan Dempster 0-2 7 7 0 0 0 0 47.1 36 14 12 3 14 44 2.28 1.06

2012 - A.J. Burnett 2-2 6 6 0 0 0 0 37.2 40 20 20 4 10 33 4.78 1.33

These two pitchers matched up at Wrigley Field on June 18, 2011, when Burnett was with the Yankees. They turned in about the same performance; Dempster has been better this year, Burnett a bit worse; Burnett might have an excuse, as he accidentally bunted a ball into his face during a spring-training drill (yet another good reason for the DH!).

Burnett has faced very few of the current Cubs; in a small-sample-size 41 at-bats, they have seven hits (.171). Dempster has faced a lot of the current Pirates; all told, they are hitting .322 against him (49-for-152) with seven home runs.

All together now: "Clearly, we are doomed."

Today's game is on CSN Chicago Plus. Check your cable/satellite system for the channel. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 6:05 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 7:05, 8:05 and 8:50 p.m. CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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