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The Pirates? Again?!?: Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Monday 6/28, 7:05 CT

Write your own caption.
Write your own caption.

When looking at the Cubs schedule before the season started, one stretch really stood out -- that is, the 12 games the Cubs had on the calendar with the Pirates in a 52-game stretch between May 4 and June 30.

Really, we thought? Almost 1/4 of the schedule with a team that the Cubs had beaten like the proverbial drum for the last three years (32-15 from 2007-2009, and 24-8 in 2008-2009)? Piece of cake, right?

That's been one bad-tasting slice of cake; the Cubs will have to sweep this series to even make the record look modestly respectable, and even then it would be only 5-7. It'd be a nice way to play starting this homestand, too. All six remaining games against the Pirates are at Wrigley (three this week, three from August 30-September 1). Let's start a nice little run tonight. Oh, and one more thing: the Pirates have lost 17 straight road games. Let's keep THAT streak going, too.

As far as the Carlos Zambrano situation is concerned, at this writing, nothing has changed, though the Cubs are investigating one temporary fix:

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has been in constant contact with Major League Baseball and Zambrano's agent about determining a final length of the suspension.

Hendry said the Cubs could go back to 25 players if Zambrano were to be moved to the restricted list. At some point, though, Zambrano will have to come back and face his teammates and apologize.

"I did speak to the people in the MLB office, and I'm sure there will be some dialogue today with MLB and the players association," Hendry said Sunday. "As far as any specifics more than that, it's probably a day or two away from knowing more than that."

Players on the restricted list generally do not get paid, but when the Mariners put Milton Bradley on the list earlier this season, they did pay him and I assume the Cubs probably would pay Z, too, just to avoid any further issues. Stay tuned. Incidentally, the restricted list is similar to a DL placement, only there is no predetermined time limit for a stay on said list. And if the Cubs do wind up trading Z, Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors has a rundown of some bad contracts the Cubs might take on. The Mets deal makes the most sense, although it probably would be the Cubs eating the difference in contracts, not the Mets.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells
Randy Wells
vs. Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm
3-6 W-L 4-6
5.21 ERA 4.24
65 SO 49
22 BB 36
7 HR 8
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Randy Wells 3-6 15 15 0 0 0 0 84.2 105 50 49 7 22 65 5.21 1.50

2010 - Paul Maholm 4-6 15 15 0 0 0 0 87.0 101 47 41 8 36 49 4.24 1.57

Paul Maholm, until this year, had been a Cubs punching bag. This season, he has already defeated the Cubs twice, with an ERA of 3.00 in 12 innings. Since his last outing vs. the Cubs on May 15, though, he is 1-3, 4.05 and got blasted out of his last start vs. the Rangers after only one inning. Derrek Lee (.333) and Aramis Ramirez (.346) have both hit Maholm hard in their careers and it's way past time for them to start hitting the ball.

Randy Wells got pounded in Pittsburgh on May 6, but then threw five shutout innings at PNC on May 31. He's been erratic this season, but had a good outing in his last home start vs. the A's. Current Pirates are hitting .400 vs. Randy, but that's only 35 total at-bats (and no home runs).

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Pittsburgh. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 8, 9 and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.