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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Thursday 9/17, 11:35 a.m. CT

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The Cubs can win not only this series, but the season series vs. the Pirates, with a victory today.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs clinched a winning season on the road with last night's win; they are 41-33 away from Wrigley with seven road games remaining. If they win today's game they will have the most road wins of any Cubs team since 2008, and the last Cubs team to win more than 42 road games was the 2004 squad, which won 44 games away from Wrigley.

Since 1945, the most road games any Cubs team has won in a season is 45, in both 1984 and 1989, both playoff years. This Cubs team has a shot at that mark.

Winning games like this on the road is important for the postseason, since the Cubs are not likely to have home-field advantage in any playoff series. Keep winning, especially since a victory today would give the Cubs the tiebreaker for home field in the wild-card game in the event the Cubs and Pirates tie for the two wild-card spots.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Schwarber LF, Coghlan RF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Russell SS, Hendricks P, La Stella 2B

Pirates lineup:

Polanco RF, Marte CF, Walker 2B, Kang SS, Alvarez 1B, Cervelli C, Snider LF, Harrison 3B, Morton P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Kyle Hendricks

Kyle Hendricks


Cubs

vs. Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

Kyle Hendricks has been better in September than in August, though still not great. We've yet to see the Hendricks this year that we saw in 2014, and he needs to step up. He's made three starts against the Pirates this year, and didn't get out of the sixth inning in any of them, and overall has a 5.63 ERA in 16 total innings against them, and has allowed home runs to Sean Rodriguez and Pedro Alvarez. That isn't good. He needs to be better.

Charlie Morton was on the DL when the Cubs and Pirates played three series in April and May, so he has not faced the Cubs this year, which means he hasn't faced any of the Cubs' rookies. Whether that's an advantage to Morton or the hitters remains to be seen. Since August 1, Morton has been pretty good, with a 3.17 ERA in eight starts. About half of those starts have been good, about half not so much. Current Cubs are 26-for-79 (.329) against Morton with four home runs. Three of those are from Starlin Castro, who isn't starting today, somewhat of a surprise because Joe Maddon often plays matchups.

Today's 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 shown on MLB Network (check your cable/satellite listings).

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. If you do go there to interact with Pirates fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

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).

At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. 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.