Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Saturday 9/8, 6:05 CT

We don't see celebrations by Cubs too often, so let's enjoy! Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The Chicago Cubs celebrate on the field after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.The Chicago Cubs won 12-2. Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

After my comments in the preview to Friday night's game, I hesitate to say "we're doomed" because, well, the Cubs looked like a playoff contender (for one night, at least). Bruce Springsteen plays Wrigley Field again tonight (I'm not going to this one) while the Cubs try to win their second straight in Pittsburgh.

This will be Jeff Samardzija's final start of the season. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals got pounded and lasted just three innings Friday night, and the Nats shut him down immediately as of this morning. That seems a little extreme to me, but maybe they know something we don't.

On the other hand, there are just 23 games remaining in this season after tonight. That would mean four more starts for Samardzija. I just don't see the harm in letting him go again at least once more.

A bit of news: Steve Clevenger has been suspended for one game (he won't appeal and will serve it tonight) for his actions during Thursday night's incident in Washington. Bench coach Jamie Quirk and reliever Manuel Corpas, also involved in the altercations, will not be suspended.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, Barney 2B, Samardzija P, Campana CF

I like this, given Tony Campana's skillset. If he's going to start, why not bat him ninth? Incidentally, as far as I can tell, going back to 1918 (as far as has lineup data), this is the first time a Cubs starting pitcher has been in the starting lineup at any batting order position other than ninth.

Pirates lineup:

Holt 2B, Marte LF, McCutchen CF, Jones 1B, Alvarez 3B, Presley RF, Barmes SS, Barajas C, McDonald P

2012 - Jeff Samardzija 8-13 29 27 0 0 0 0 165.2 153 76 72 20 55 171 3.91 1.26

2012 - James McDonald 12-7 30 27 1 0 0 0 161.2 133 75 70 19 62 147 3.90 1.21

JefF Samardzija had his best start of the year the last time the Cubs were in Pittsburgh; he gave up just one hit in eight innings July 23. Some, including me, thought he should have been allowed to finish. What if it had been a no-hitter? Dale Sveum seems allergic to complete games. With the team doing this badly, if Shark is that good tonight, let him finish. (Especially if he's going to be shut down.)

Speaking of no-hitters, James McDonald took one into the seventh inning against the Rockies April 25 at PNC Park -- a game the Rox eventually won. July 24 at PNC against the Cubs, he got hit pretty hard, including homers from Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro. Perhaps we're not doomed tonight.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

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 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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