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Pittsburgh Has Been Good To The Cubs: Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Tuesday 9/8, 6:05 CT

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PITTSBURGH -- As I noted yesterday, the Pirates have become the Cubs' favorite punching bag (well, they have for a lot of teams, but the Cubs in particular). The Cubs have now won 10 of the last 13 games between the two teams at PNC Park; 12 of the last 14 overall; are 21-6 against the Pirates since the beginning of 2008 and 69-40 against them since 2003.

That's why it's good news that this Cubs team has six remaining games against the Pirates. If they are going to go on a miracle run with 26 games remaining, it's good to have nearly a quarter of them against a team they beat with regularity.

For those of you who read northpaw22k's FanShot about Prince Fielder and the Brewers' weird walkoff celebration on Sunday, you weren't the only ones upset; the Giants and one of the local writers in the Bay Area were also less than thrilled:

Look, I'm not against players having fun on the field. It's a game and fans buy tickets to be entertained. Every time a college football player gets flagged for the tiniest bit of exuberance, I shake my head. Let the kid enjoy the moment a little bit, huh?

But if you have any knowledge or appreciation for the culture of baseball, you know Fielder's stunt was over the top. It was disrespectful. And if he's going to pull stuff like that, he's got absolutely no right to take umbrage the next time a pitcher gets revenge with a fastball to the ribs. Hey, he's got plenty of built-in padding, anyway.

Fielder can risk retaliation if he wants. But it seldom ends there. He's putting his teammates at risk, too, and possibly putting his pitchers in a bad position. But I guess they all were active participants, so maybe all of them should be on alert.

100% correct, in my opinion. I have no problem with celebrations. But this one was way over the top.

More Cubs notes: our old friend Kevin Hart has been moved up in the Pirates rotation and will start against Z tomorrow afternoon. Also from that link:

Outfielder Sam Fuld on Sunday aggravated a minor wrist injury he suffered making that face-banging catch in Los Angeles two weeks ago and is limited for now to playing defense. He did it in the seventh inning Sunday, chasing down Dan Murphy's triple.

The tight hamstring that forced Andres Blanco out of Sunday's game in the seventh inning will probably sideline him for at least another day or two, manager Lou Piniella said.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Zach Duke
Zach Duke
Pirates
8-8 W-L 10-13
3.96 ERA 3.71
136 SO 87
57 BB 41
18 HR 21
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ryan Dempster 8-8 25 25 0 0 0 0 156.2 158 82 69 18 57 136 3.96 1.37


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Zach Duke 10-13 28 27 3 1 0 0 182.0 196 80 75 21 41 87 3.71 1.30

Zach Duke has made 125 major league starts. 16 of those are vs. the Cubs, more than against any other team. He's got a decent 3.13 ERA in those starts, but is only 4-7, and 0-2 with a no-decision this year despite a good 3.38 ERA and going at least seven innings in all three starts. That's kind of what the Pirates are -- they aren't really bad, just not good enough. (No wonder he isn't smiling in the photo.) Current Cubs are hitting .335 (83-for-248) vs. Duke with 7 HR, including a pair by Jeff Baker in only 9 AB.

Ryan Dempster has started only once vs. the Pirates this year and it was one of his worst of the year, on May 25 at Wrigley Field. The good news is that five of the eight position players in that day's starting lineup are no longer with the Pirates, including Freddy Sanchez, who homered off Dempster. No current Pirate has homered off him and in Dempster's last outing at PNC Park, coincidentally vs. Duke on April 9, 2008, he threw seven one-hit innings. A repeat of that would be real nice.

Cable-only for TV today, in Chicago (CSN) and Pittsburgh (FSN). 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.

I'm going to stick to two overflow threads for the time being: tonight at 7:15 and 8:30 pm CDT. If things get too busy, please post a FanShot overflow; if I see there's a lot of activity the next couple of days, I may go back to three.

Discuss amongst yourselves.