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Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Sunday 9/7, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs will try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Pirates.

Brian Kersey

I've said it many times before -- the Cubs need to start doing better against the teams in the N.L. Central if they want to have any thoughts of being serious contenders. While they have done better against the Brewers (9-7) and Cardinals (7-9) this year, their records against the Reds (5-11) and Pirates (4-11) need improvement.

They can start that today with a win over the Pirates, which would give the Cubs their second straight winning homestand, put them over .500 at home for the year and give them a lift going into the road trip to Toronto and Pittsburgh.

Speaking of which, I am heading toward Toronto after this afternoon's game to see the series there. It's certainly not an important series for the Cubs, but I haven't been on a Cubs road trip this year and Toronto is a great city to visit any time. Depending on the length of this afternoon's game, the recap might be delayed.

The Cubs are supposed to be wearing "throwback" uniforms from 2008 today. How they are going to make those look different from the 2014 version, I'll be interested to see, because the Cubs' home pinstripes have been essentially unchanged since 1993 (except for 2005-06 when they took names off the backs).

On to today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Alcantara CF, Baez SS, Coghlan LF, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Olt 1B, Kalish RF, Watkins 2B, Wood P

The Cubs had announced earlier that Jorge Soler would likely miss one of the games in this series, as they are still being careful with his hamstrings. He might wind up as the DH for one or more games in Toronto.

The Pirates lineup was not available at the time I wrote this post. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Pirates lineup.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

Travis Wood has faced the Pirates three times this year; two of the starts were pretty good, the other, not so much. One of the good ones was a match with today's Pirates starter, Gerrit Cole, April 10 at Wrigley Field, where Wood (six innings, one run) outdueled Cole (six innings, four runs) but the Cubs' bullpen blew the game. Isn't it nice that isn't happening very much any more?

Cole, for his part, has missed quite a bit of time this year due to lat injuries. He was just reactivated August 20 and has made three starts since then, but got hit hard in his last outing against the Cardinals (six innings, eight hits, five runs). The April 10 game is his only start against the Cubs this year. No one on the active Cubs roster has more than five career AB vs. Cole.

Today's game is on WGN.

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.