Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Saturday 9/14, 6:05 CT: More Spoiler-Playing?

Justin K. Aller

The Cubs have been doing a nice job of turning the N.L. Central race upside-down this week.

I think most of us, now that the Reds are fading out of division-title contention, would rather see the Pirates win the N.L. Central than the Cardinals.

Thus the conundrum: do you want the Pirates to win tonight? I don't. I'd rather just see the Cardinals start losing -- this, after they pretty much got a game handed to them by the Mariners Friday night.

The more interesting races are for the wild cards in both leagues, where there are now six teams within 4½ games of both wild-card spots in the American League after the Rangers' loss to the Athletics Friday night, and the Reds' lead over the Nationals for the second wild-card spot in the N.L. also just 4½ games after Cincinnati's loss and Washington's win Friday night. (Go Nats!)

The final day of 2011 might have been the greatest single last day of a season ever, but this year could have some wild days to come. In the absence of the Cubs being in contention, I'm following the other races -- great fun.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Sweeney CF, Bogusevic LF, Castillo C, Barney 2B, Baker P

Pirates lineup:

Tabata LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Morneau 1B, Byrd RF, Alvarez 3B, Martin C, Mercer SS, Cole P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Scott Baker

Scott Baker


Cubs

vs. Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Scott Baker 0-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0.00 .60


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Gerrit Cole 7-7 16 16 0 0 0 0 98.1 93 39 38 7 21 75 3.48 1.16

Scott Baker has never faced the Pirates and has a very small sample size (9-for-42, .214) against players currently on their roster. It would be nice to see him build on his excellent first outing. Baker and new Pirate Justin Morneau were longtime teammates with the Twins, for whatever that's worth.

Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has never faced the Cubs. He's been solid in 16 starts this year and threw seven shutout innings against a very good Rangers team in his last outing. This is shaping up to be a low-scoring game. (Now that I've said that, of course, it won't be.)

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.

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