Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Saturday 6/8, 3:05 CT: So Close, But...

USA TODAY Sports

The season series between the Cubs and Pirates is a really good example of the very thin line that sometimes exists between being a good team and a bad team.

The Cubs, as you know, have nearly an even run differential this year -- 240 runs scored, 242 allowed, which by Pythagorean formula would normally translate into a .500 record. Instead, the Cubs are 10 games under. You know most of the reasons.

There's no better example of this than the Cubs' season series against the Pirates. The two teams have played seven times entering Saturday's action. The Pirates have won five of the seven games. None of the games has been decided by more than three runs, and there's only one of those. Here are the seven scores:

April 1: Cubs 3, Pirates 1
April 3: Pirates 3, Cubs 0
April 4: Cubs 3, Pirates 2
May 21: Pirates 5, Cubs 4
May 22: Pirates 1, Cubs 0
May 23: Pirates 4, Cubs 2
June 6: Pirates 2, Cubs 0

Three one-run games. Three two-run games. One three-run game. Just 30 total runs scored by both teams in the seven games; average winning score: 3-1 (approximately). You can see how just a bit better bullpen work, or a bit better hitting...

Hopefully, that's coming. In the meantime, a win today would be nice.

Cubs lineup:

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

The Pirates lineup was not available at the time I wrote this post. Check the BCB Twitter feed for the Pirates lineup.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija


Cubs

vs. A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Jeff Samardzija 3-6 12 12 1 1 0 0 79.0 59 30 26 7 28 91 2.96 1.10


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - A.J. Burnett 3-6 13 13 0 0 0 0 81.0 62 30 29 7 32 94 3.22 1.16

These two pitchers matched up April 1, Opening Day in Pittsburgh. Burnett struck out 10 Cubs in 5⅔ innings, but the Cubs managed three runs off him, including a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo. Samardzija was outstanding, striking out nine in eight shutout innings; he was also very, very good in a 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh May 22. He's allowed just one run to the Pirates in 15 innings this year, striking out 17.

So, of course, expect a high-scoring runfest today. Kidding! I expect another low-scoring pitchers' duel.

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.

Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. 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, that will usually be 90 minutes.

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 five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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