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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Pirates, Saturday 9/22, 12:05 CT

Nothing's ever easy, as we learned last night when the Brewers came back and won their game at Atlanta, keeping the Cubs' division lead at 1.5 games. Both teams will play this afternoon -- see below for details on the Brewers' game at Atlanta (featuring Yovani Gallardo pitching against John Smoltz, which will be televised regionally on Fox-TV.

Notes: if you have not already seen this, I posted a diary earlier this morning to note the game time change next Saturday in Cincinnati.

Just win, baby.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Hill
R. Hill
vs. Zach Duke
Z. Duke
9-8 W-L 3-7
4.01 ERA 5.70
175 SO 33
60 BB 22
27 HR 11
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs
This would appear on paper to be a mismatch, and not what you'd think based on the overall records. Rich Hill didn't throw well in his last start, but has had a decent year -- not against the Pirates, though; he's 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts. The Cubs are, however, 7-1 in Hill's last eight starts at home. One guy who hits Hill hard is Ronny Paulino (5-for-11, a double, a HR). The only other current Pirate who has homered off Hill is Jack Wilson, who will not be back with the club till tomorrow, after being with his wife the birth of his child.

Zach Duke is a Cub-killer. The Pirates have had a bunch of those over the years I've been a fan, and Duke is just the latest. He's 4-1, 1.57 lifetime, which includes a 3-1, 1.42 mark in five career starts at Wrigley Field. In between those starts he spends his time cleaning up all the beaches on Lake Michigan, planting trees in Grant Park, and helps little old ladies cross the street. Matt Murton is the only Cub who's consistently hit Duke well -- 9-for 20 (.450/.476/.700, 2 doubles, a HR), so I'd expect to see him get the start again.

Today's game is on WGN -- no Pittsburgh TV coverage. Also see today's Mediacenter link. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2006 version) Gameday for the Brewers/Braves game (2:55 CT start, TV on Fox - will be seen in 25% of the USA including Chicago)

Discuss amongst yourselves.