Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Thursday 4/4, 11:35 CT: Morning Baseball!

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Talk about weird schedules -- the Cubs sure have had one for their first regular-season series of 2013.

ON THE ROAD IN OKLAHOMA -- It's still chilly in Pittsburgh this morning, though not nearly as cold as it was Wednesday night. Temperatures are supposed to be in the mid 50s for this game, so with sunshine, things should be more comfortable for both players and fans, and maybe Anthony Rizzo won't have to dress the way he looks in the photo above..

As you can see by the dateline, I'm on the road back to Chicago and won't arrive until long after this game ends (no, I'm not actually writing this from the car; wrote it up Wednesday night at my hotel in Amarillo). So for this afternoon's contest that will decide the winner of this first Cubs series of 2013, Josh will be handling the recap. I'll be listening in the car via MLB AtBat (really, truly love that app. MLB did that one right).

Back to normal around here Friday, when I'll be back in Chicago for the first time in a month. Turn the heat on back there, please!

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Schierholtz RF, Navarro C, Valbuena 3B, Lillibridge 2B, Wood P

Pirates lineup:

Marte LF, Martin C, McCutchen CF, Sanchez 1B, Alvarez 3B, Walker 2B, Tabata RF, Barmes SS, McDonald P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. James McDonald

James McDonald


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

Pitcher stat lines will return after pitchers have at least one 2013 appearance.

Travis Wood threw three times against the Pirates in 2012. One of those outings, September 7 in Pittsburgh, was really good -- one hit allowed in six innings. The others (both at Wrigley Field)? Kinda meh. 10⅔ innings, five earned runs, six walks, 15 strikeouts. This is the story of Wood's career -- inconsistency. He's still young enough to get better. Today would be a good time to start that.

James McDonald made three starts against the Cubs last year. The Cubs won all three of them! There, I'm done. ... OK, not really. He combined for 15⅓ innings in those starts, allowed 17 hits, 12 earned runs, walked seven and struck out nine. Current Cubs are 22-for-88 (.250) against him with four home runs (one by Nate Schierholtz, one by Starlin Castro, two by Alfonso Soriano). All of that is pretty meh, too.

So we have a meh matchup on a meh day. Maybe something special will happen.

Today's game is on WGN.

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.

Here's how we're going to do game threads this year, as it seems to have worked well during spring training. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games (like today), that will usually be 90 minutes.

As has been the case during spring training, you will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at game time, then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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