On the one hand, tonight's game doesn't mean a thing. It's the last game between these two clubs during the regular season. Both have clinched playoff spots, and unless the Pirates somehow overtake the Cardinals for the N.L. Central title, the Cubs have won the season series from Pittsburgh and are headed for PNC Park for the wild-card game a week from Wednesday.
On the other hand, tonight's game means a lot for the Cubs, who have lost three in a row and would certainly like to end this streak and finish the year against the Bucs on a high note.
On the other, other hand, the Pirates would certainly like to get to Jake Arrieta tonight.
On the other, other, other hand, if Arrieta can shut down the Pirates offense for the fifth time this season (so far: three earned runs in 29 innings in four starts), it would set a great tone for facing them a sixth time on October 7. One more thing about tonight: if Arrieta posts the individual pitcher "win," he'd be the first Cub to win more than 20 in a season since Fergie Jenkins had 24 wins in 1971.
Let's get Wrigley rocking tonight with some Cubs offense and great pitching from Arrieta.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Schwarber LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Castro 2B, Soler RF, Montero C, Russell SS, Arrieta P
Polanco RF, Marte LF, McCutchen CF, Ramirez 3B, Walker 2B, Cervelli C, Alvarez 1B, Mercer SS, Burnett P
Today's Starting Pitchers
This game is a pitching rematch from September 16 at PNC Park. Jake Arrieta threw eight innings and allowed six hits, all singles, and two runs. One run was unearned because of Arrieta's own throwing error on a comebacker. I'm thinking that won't happen again. The Cubs hit A.J. Burnett pretty well -- eight hits in 5⅓ innings, and two runs. Kris Bryant doubled twice off Burnett and Dexter Fowler tripled.
This one won't be easy, but you can bet Arrieta will be at the top of his game. There is this to consider:
With playoff berth secured, Cubs will explore "possibility" of tapering Arrieta's final 2 starts, examine playoff roster options— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) September 26, 2015
I'd guess there won't be any more 120-pitch outings for Jake, not till the postseason, anyway. He's thrown at least 112 in each of his last five starts. Perhaps dialing that back to 100 or so for the next two regular-season outings would be a good idea.
Today's game is on ESPN.
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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).
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.