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Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Tuesday 4/8, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs host their first Wrigley Field night game of 2014.

David Banks

All right, I have to ask the question.

Why are the Cubs playing night games this early in April?

It's not just the Cubs, either; most of the cold-weather cities in the midwest and northeast have weeknight games scheduled this week.

I understand it, up to a point; TV ratings (generally) are higher at this time of year than in the summer. One of the reasons for that is... it's cold outside. I can't imagine the Cubs would sell more tickets for a night game in early April than an afternoon contest, and they certainly won't get more people in the park.

One of the issues this year is the schedule, which has the Cubs playing just 18 Monday-through-Thursday dates from April through June. That doesn't give them much flexibility, since they still can't play Friday night home games (and they really should be allowed two or three such dates a year, coming off road trips).

Wrigley will be pretty empty tonight with temperatures in the 30s expected. In general, the Cubs should probably not schedule night games until late April, if they can do so.

FWIW, the Cubs were 12-18 (.400) in Wrigley night games in 2013. They were 19-32 (.373) in day games at home in 2013, not really a significant difference. Basically, they were bad at home no matter what time the game started last year. An improvement in that would be welcome.

Cubs lineup:

Bonifacio 2B, Kalish LF, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Valbuena 3B, Castro SS, Sweeney CF, Castillo C, Jackson P

Since lineup quibbling is a favorite pastime here, I think I would have batted Welington Castillo higher in this lineup, to break up the four straight LH hitters -- maybe fifth.

Pirates lineup:

Marte LF, Snider RF, McCutchen CF, Alvarez 3B, Martin C, Walker 2B, Ishikawa 1B, Mercer SS, Morton P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson


Cubs

vs. Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

This is a pitching rematch of this year's second game, last Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The game went 16 innings. I could do without that tonight.

Both Charlie Morton and Edwin Jackson pitched reasonably well in that game, though "reasonably" has a bit of a different definition for Jackson (four walks in five innings, that isn't good). Morton shut out the Cubs for six innings, striking out six.

It's going to be cold tonight. Look for another low-scoring game.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.