Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Friday 9/7, 6:05 CT

Invent some conversation for these men, put it in the comments: Manager Dale Sveum of the Chicago Cubs talks to the umpiring crew after an altercation with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Cubs are 35 games under .500 at 51-86. This is the first time any Cubs team has been that many games under .500 since the last day of the 1966 season, when they finished 44 games under at 59-103. Only three teams in Cubs history have been as many as 35 games under .500: the 1962, 1966 and... 2012 teams. The club record is 45 games under .500, the day before the last day of the 1962 season (58-103, before they won that last day).

Just one of a number of negative milestones that could be coming over the next four weeks.

Oh, and here, look! The Cubs have another new pitcher!

For whatever that's worth.

As for me, I won't see much of this game, as I'm heading to Wrigley Field to see Bruce Springsteen tonight. (Hoping it doesn't rain!) This, and tomorrow, will be the last sellouts at Wrigley this year.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Clevenger C, Jackson CF, Barney 2B, Wood P

Pirates lineup:

Holt 2B, Marte LF, McCutchen CF, Jones RF, Sanchez 1B, Alvarez 3B, Barajas C, Harrison SS, Burnett P

This is how this season has gone for the Cubs: the Cubs call up an infielder (Josh Vitters) who was doing pretty well at Triple-A (.304/.356/.513 with 17 HR in 110 games), and he promptly stops hitting entirely. The Pirates call up an infielder (Brock Holt) who was doing somewhat better than Vitters in the minor leagues (.344/.406/.453 in 126 games, though all but 24 of those were in Double-A). Holt proceeds to crush MLB pitching. In fact, he has more hits in 16 MLB at-bats (seven) than Vitters has in 67 MLB at-bats (five). Now Holt is leading off for a playoff contender, and Vitters is sitting on the bench for a team headed for 100 losses.

Sigh. Same as it ever was.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Travis Wood
Travis Wood
Cubs
vs. A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett
Pirates
4-11 W-L 15-5
4.64 ERA 3.63
86 SO 145
39 BB 53
23 HR 17
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Travis Wood 4-11 22 20 0 0 0 0 120.1 110 67 62 23 39 86 4.64 1.24


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - A.J. Burnett 15-5 25 25 1 1 0 0 163.2 150 69 66 17 53 145 3.63 1.24

Travis Wood threw five decent innings against the Pirates August 1 at PNC Park. Didn't matter. The Cubs lost anyway. You're not really expecting a different result tonight, are you?

A.J. Burnett has made two starts against the Cubs this year, comprising 14 innings. He has allowed seven hits -- all singles -- four walks, and no runs, while winning both of those starts. You're not really expecting a different result tonight, are you?

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. Also please note: due to some under-the-hood changes, the sidebar box with the game thread links is no longer available. It seems you've found them with no problems, but if you haven't been able to find the overflow threads, click the "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" link under "Sections" on the left sidebar. They're all in there.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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