The Cubs paid Jon Lester $155 million over a six-year deal last winter, the biggest-dollar deal in franchise history.
In part, they did that to get a pitcher who could win games like this one -- a September pennant-race game when the team is in a brief losing skid. Pitchers like this used to be termed "stoppers," as in they would stop said losing streaks. The Cubs definitely have one of those in Jake Arrieta -- now it's time for Lester to step up and do the same. He was very, very good in his last outing. The Cubs need another one like that.
The Pirates are a good baserunning team with a pair of players who have 24 or more stolen bases (Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco). Keep those two off the bases and Lester and David Ross should be able to control the running game.
Site note: a recap of this game will post at 8 a.m. CT Wednesday, just as for any night game.
Here are the rest of the particulars for Game 2.
Fowler CF, Jackson LF, Bryant RF, Rizzo 1B, Castro 2B, Baez 3B, Russell SS, Ross C, Lester P
This is just the second time any Cubs pitcher has batted ninth this year. The other one was this game, also a Lester start, and one of his best games of the year. Here's hoping for a repeat performance.
Harrison 2B, Marte LF, McCutchen CF, Ramirez 3B, Cervelli C, Morse 1B, Rodriguez RF, Florimon SS, Happ P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jon Lester has made one start against the Pirates this year, May 16 at Wrigley Field, and it was a good one: seven innings, one run, one walk, seven strikeouts. Check that: he actually started another game against the Pirates, the one that was rained out in August. He threw 1⅔ innings and allowed one run before he left following the first rain delay. As noted above, he had an excellent outing in his last start in St. Louis. The Cubs need him to be that good tonight.
J.A. Happ was pretty mediocre (4.61 ERA, 1.408 WHIP) in 21 starts with the Mariners this year. He produced 0.4 bWAR in Seattle and there was absolutely no indication that he would pitch lights-out the way he has in seven starts with the Pirates -- 1.79 ERA, 0.992 WHIP, and the Pirates have won six of the seven games. However! Perhaps there's hope in the fact that the one game he threw poorly and the Pirates lost was against the Cubs, August 4 at PNC Park, his first start with Pittsburgh. I'll take another one just like that one, too.
Today's second game is on WGN. For coverage info in other Midwest markets click here (link opens .pdf). In most of the USA this game will be on MLB Network (check your cable/satellite listings).
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The 2015 Game Thread procedure has changed a bit. Here's how it will work going forward.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games). This preview is different as it's posted when lineups were available.
At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page; the StoryStream™ for this doubleheader will include all the threads for both games. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.