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It's The 47th Anniversary Of... Cubs vs. Pirates Doubleheader Preview, Wednesday 9/30, 1:05 & 7:05 CT

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A 47th anniversary? Of what? What's that all about?

This all started with an email exchange on a SABR mailing list to which I subscribe. (Yes, I got permission from both men to post their email here.) Josh Heit asked the list over this past weekend:

On Monday, the Mets and Nationals begin a series and the teams will have at least a combined 191 losses (Mets 89 going into Sunday, Nationals 102). Is this is a record? I have checked some obvious choices such as the 2003 Tigers and did not find a series that beat 191, although I was not working off of a comprehensive list.

To which John Pastier wrote the following definitive reply:

As a 1962 Mets fan, I am deeply shocked that Josh does not consider The Amazin's to be an obvious choice to be checked for this honor. This club was to losing what Rickey Henderson was to stealing or walking, what Barry Bonds was to splash hits, what Ichiro is to singles, what the Rockies are to thin air, what Joe Morgan is to baseball analysis, and what Pete Rose was to making outs. They are the undisputed gold standard of losing, and holding up a puny 191 combined losses before this juggernaut of defeat is like asking whether Babe Ruth ever hit more than 40 home runs.

The Mets and the Cubs played each other on Sept. 30, 1962, and at the close of business, they had combined for 223 losses, 120 of them by the Metropolitans. And they did this even though they were not allowed to complete their full schedule, falling two decisions short of the requisite 162.

I hope Pastier was being facetious about Joe Morgan (either that, or in an oblique way calling him a "loser"). Anyway, yes, the Sept. 30, 1962 game (which the Cubs won 5-3), holds the record for the game in which the two clubs began the day with the most combined losses (222; the Mets began the game with 119 defeats and the Cubs 103, which is the franchise record, tied in 1966). Another interesting note about that season-ending series at Wrigley Field 47 years ago: the first game of that series, a Friday afternoon game on September 28 also won by the Cubs 3-2, drew a paid "crowd" of 595 people. That number of people could fit comfortably in a couple of bleacher sections. It was one of nine games between 1959 and 1966 that drew paid attendance of less than 1000. How times change.

There will be a few more people than that in the seats during today's first game, a makeup of the postponement from August 16, but likely fewer than the estimated 15,000 who showed up last night.

Starting rotation note: Lou announced during last night's postgame news conference that Jeff Samardzija will start tomorrow vs. the Pirates, and Tom Gorzelanny on Friday vs. the Diamondbacks. (It was originally the other way around.)

Game One Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
Cubs
vs. Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton
Pirates
12-8 W-L 4-9
3.02 ERA 5.01
143 SO 54
34 BB 37
22 HR 7
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ted Lilly 12-8 26 26 0 0 0 0 170.0 146 62 57 22 34 143 3.02 1.06


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Charlie Morton 4-9 17 17 0 0 0 0 88.0 98 49 49 7 37 54 5.01 1.53

Game Two Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
Cubs
vs. Jeff Karstens
Jeff Karstens
Pirates
9-6 W-L 3-5
3.69 ERA 5.45
146 SO 49
74 BB 44
10 HR 12
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Carlos Zambrano 9-6 34 27 1 1 0 0 163.1 149 74 67 10 74 146 3.69 1.37


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jeff Karstens 3-5 36 11 0 0 0 0 100.2 106 62 61 12 44 49 5.45 1.49

I'm going to try to say nice things about the Pirates' starters today, Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens, but geez, those records are pretty bad. Neither one strikes out many hitters, and both ERA's are north of 5.00. The last time Charlie Morton faced the Cubs, they scored ten earned runs off him in one-plus innings on August 14 at Wrigley Field before John Russell took pity on him and got him out of the game. Jeff Karstens had one shining moment as a Pirate, in the first game he threw for them after being acquired from the Yankees. On August 1, 2008, he threw six shutout innings against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. His next two outings against the Cubs, not so much -- five earned runs in three innings in a start on August 25, 2008 and two earned runs in two innings in relief on September 9 of this year.

Ted Lilly will be trying to lower his ERA below 3.00 and finish the year with a sub-three ERA for the first time in his major league career -- a worthy goal. A win today would also be his 45th as a Cub, giving him an average of 15 wins a year over the first three years of his four-year deal, one of Jim Hendry's best free-agent signings. Ted is 1-1 vs. the Pirates this year with a 2.77 ERA and he threw better in the June 30 loss, when the Cubs got shut out by Ross Ohlendorf (who the Cubs won't face in this series), than in the September 9 victory at PNC Park. Ted is also 8-1, 1.60 in 12 starts at Wrigley Field this year and 8-3, 2.55 in 14 starts in day games.

Carlos Zambrano is 1-0, 2.19 in two starts vs. the Pirates this year; he will be trying to follow up his shutout of the Giants with another strong performance to end the year on an up note, and also to get his 10th win. That would make seven straight years in double figures for Z and it would be his 106th career victory. Of the current Pirates, no one has more than 14 career AB against Z, and only Brandon Moss has homered off him.

Today's first game is on WGN and FSN Pittsburgh. Today's second game is on CSN Chicago Plus (CLTV in Chicago, "check local listings" elsewhere). For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday (game one)

MLB.com Gameday (game two)

Baseball-reference.com game preview (game one)

Baseball-reference.com game preview (game two)

SB Nation game preview (game one)

SB Nation game preview (game two)

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout. They seem a little lonely over there.

There won't be a separate game preview thread for the second game; consider this a preview for both games (feel free to revisit this thread before the night game begins). Overflow comment threads will post today for game one at 2:15 and 3:15 pm CDT. The first pitch thread will post for game two at 7 pm CDT and overflows at 8:15 and 9:15 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.