Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Thursday 4/10, 1:20 CT

Brian Kersey

The Cubs shoot for their first series win of 2014.

I was glad to see in this Tribune article that Ricky is willing to be flexible:

Opportunity is expanding for Mike Olt and Junior Lake — along with their confidence.

After they hit consecutive home runs Wednesday night to vault the Cubs to a 7-5 victory over the Pirates, manager Rick Renteria is ready to increase their roles.

Renteria said he plans to steer away slightly from his initial plan of employing a platoon system at certain positions and pencil in right-handed batters Olt and Lake to face hard-throwing right-hander Gerrit Cole in Thursday's series finale.

"(Thursday) is as good a day as any," Renteria said after Olt snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run homer and Lake hit the next pitch off left-hander Wandy Rodriguez over the left-field bleachers.

This isn't to say that Olt and Lake are going to hit home runs every day (though that would be nice), but at least they're going to start getting more of a chance to play every day (or most days), apparently. This is a good thing, I believe.

Cubs lineup:

Bonifacio 2B, Kalish LF, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Lake CF, Castro SS, Olt 3B, Castillo C, Wood P

And, in fact, there it is -- Junior Lake and Mike Olt, starting, vs. a RHP. I like this lineup, though I think I might bat Olt higher than Lake. (Always a comment, right?)

Pirates lineup:

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

The Pirates have used this lineup just one other time in eight games -- against the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright last Sunday. (And in that game, Neil Walker hit ahead of the Sanchezes.) Today is the first time the Pirates have faced a lefthanded pitcher this year. Last year they went 76-55 vs. RH starters and 18-13 vs. LH starters.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

Travis Wood made three starts against the Pirates last year and posted a 1.50 ERA and 0.889 WHIP against them. That's really good! Can he do the same today? He'll need to, because his opponent is just as tough.

Gerrit Cole has one career start against the Cubs, September 24, 2013 at Wrigley Field. He gave up seven hits and two runs in six innings; Cole also threw well in his first start of 2014. The strong offense of the last two days will have a tough time with this tough righthander.

Today's game is on WGN. In some parts of the USA it will be seen on MLB Network (check your cable/satellite listings).

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.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

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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