Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Monday 7/23, 6:05 CT

St. Louis, MO. USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Jeff Beliveau walks off the field after giving the ball to manager Dale Sveum against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Once upon a time there were two baseball teams.

One was very, very good and the other was very, very bad.

I'm talking about the 2007-09 versions of the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. From Sept. 21, 2007 through the end of the 2009 season, the Cubs went 27-8 against the Pirates. This included five series sweeps, three of them in Pittsburgh. The Cubs won two division titles and had another winning year in that span; the Pirates lost 94, 95 and 99 games, respectively.

Since then? Not so much. From the start of the 2010 season through now, the Cubs are 13-21 against the Pirates. This includes losing five games at Wrigley Field to them in the 2010 season, a year in which the Pirates won only 12 other road games in all other parks. It also includes a four-game sweep over the Pirates at PNC Park in 2011 -- so apart from that, the Cubs are just 9-21 against Pittsburgh in that time span.

Now, the Pirates are good -- they're in first place and are the most games they've been over .500 in a decade -- and the Cubs aren't. The Cubs have been swept once already at PNC this year (and, thanks to the weird MLB schedule, this is the Cubs' second visit to PNC this year while the Pirates won't make their first 2012 visit to Wrigley Field until next week). The Pirates have the best home record in the major leagues (32-14); the Cubs have the second-worst road record (14-35). This series could easily be another Pirates sweep.

All right, the cheery news is done. Enjoy the game, as we await more possible trades, after today's earlier Ryan Dempster um, sort of deal.

Cubs lineup:

Johnson CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Baker RF, Soto C, Mather 3B, Barney 2B, Samardzija P

Pirates lineup:

Presley LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Jones RF, McGehee 1B, Alvarez 3B, Barajas C, Barmes SS, Bedard P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
Cubs
vs. Erik Bedard
Erik Bedard
Pirates
6-8 W-L 5-10
4.57 ERA 4.55
109 SO 82
40 BB 43
12 HR 9
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Jeff Samardzija 6-8 20 18 0 0 0 0 106.1 107 56 54 12 40 109 4.57 1.38


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Erik Bedard 5-10 18 18 0 0 0 0 93.0 98 50 47 9 43 82 4.55 1.52

Jeff Samardzija has not faced the Pirates this year; after a rough June, Shark has a 2.37 ERA in three July starts, with just six walks and 24 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. Current Pirates are a small-sample-size 6-for-28 against him. Two of those hits, though, are home runs (Casey McGehee and Neil Walker).

Erik Bedard has been just so-so this year; naturally, his best start of the season was against the Cubs, May 27 in Pittsburgh; he threw six shutout innings while Cubs pitchers were getting cuffed around. That's his only career start against the Cubs; he gave up just two singles and four walks. Clearly...

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

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 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 or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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