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Going For The Sweep: Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Sunday 8/16, 1:20 CT

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At this writing I think the Pirates are going to finish the season with a worse record than the Nationals. With the Nats beating up on the Reds last night they are only 4.5 games behind the Pirates and Washington has some actual good young talent, particularly hitters. Since July 1 the Pirates are 10-29; in the same time frame the Nats are 19-22.

The best news about that is that the Cubs will play the Pirates seven more times, including today -- and they also have the Nats three more times, after having swept them in DC last month. That is, incidentally, the only series after the All-Star break in which the Nats don't have at least one victory.

Again, you might say "the Cubs can't beat the good teams". Doesn't matter. Win the games on your schedule -- that's all you can do. If they happen to be against bad teams and the Cubs pile up wins that way, we'll take them.

In case you were still one of those lobbying for Bob Brenly to take over from Lou Piniella, the Sun-Times' Neil Hayes says Bob's not interested:

"Because of my past employment, a lot of people think I'm trying to steal Lou's job," Brenly said. "I'm not after anybody's job. I have to say what I see on the field. I'm doing the best job I can as an analyst, and at the end of the day, if I feel like I've made the game more interesting and fun, I've done my job."

The rest of the article is the usual mass-media writer's "sky is falling", "it's all over" tripe; it's worth posting these two paragraphs because they are utter nonsense:

If Piniella doesn't want the job and Brenly doesn't want the job, who might? Tony La Russa will be a free agent. Ending his career by trying to win a World Series with the Cubs might be intriguing. He started his career on the South Side. He could come full circle by ending it on the North Side.

Never mind. Bad idea. La Russa is a big believer in fundamentals, which evidently isn't stressed in the Cubs' organization. He likes versatile players who can play multiple positions. The Cubs don't have many of those. It's a bad fit. La Russa would need a straitjacket after a few weeks with this team.

Ridiculous. You'd hire LaRussa for that exact reason -- to bring his emphasis on fundamentals to the organization. LaRussa also has a knack for getting the most out of the players he's given. I like Lou Piniella as a manager, but that's not one of his strengths, or at least it hasn't been in 2009. Nevertheless, if Lou can get his apparent disinterest back to the leadership level he showed the last two years, there is still time to make something out of this season, despite what Neil Hayes says.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Ross Ohlendorf
Ross Ohlendorf
Pirates
7-7 W-L 10-8
4.30 ERA 4.30
130 SO 73
47 BB 43
21 HR 19
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 7-7 21 20 0 0 0 0 111.0 97 59 53 21 47 130 4.30 1.30


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ross Ohlendorf 10-8 23 23 0 0 0 0 136.0 137 67 65 19 43 73 4.30 1.32

Ross Ohlendorf is 10-8 on a team that is 46-70. That's pretty impressive. Even more impressive is his one career start vs. the Cubs, on June 30 in Pittsburgh, when he allowed just three singles and a double (by Geovany Soto). That's enough of that, I think. Let's beat up on this guy. More than likely, three of the starting eight from June 30 (Micah Hoffpauir, Jake Fox and Mike Fontenot) won't be in the lineup today.

Rich Harden deserved better in his last start on Tuesday; let's not talk any further about that. Since the All-Star break Rich is 2-1, 1.95 in six starts with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks in 37 innings. He's allowed only 19 hits (and 2 HBP) in those 37 IP for a 0.86 WHIP. His only career start vs. the Pirates was on June 29 in Pittsburgh, where he allowed eight singles, a double, one run and struck out nine. Four of the starting eight in that game are no longer on the Pirates.

WGN carries the game nationally, and it's also on FSN Pittsburgh. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.