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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Wednesday 9/6, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs look to break their three-game losing streak.

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Thank you, Cincinnati Reds!

Now there are words I didn’t think I’d be writing this year, but the Reds completed a three-game sweep of the Brewers with a 7-1 win Wednesday afternoon.

That gave the Cubs another half game on their lead going into tonight’s game, so the lead is now four games, hopefully 4½ after tonight. The Brewers loss means they now have one more loss than the Cardinals, so the teams are in a virtual tie for second place, Milwaukee at 72-68 and St. Louis at 71-67. Since St. Louis remains at 67 losses pending tonight’s action, the Milwaukee loss does not reduce the Cubs’ division-clinching magic number. That, for now, remains at 21.

Interestingly, you’d think the Brewers would have flown home to Milwaukee after this day game, spend their off day at home, and then bus down to Chicago Wednesday night — but no, they are flying to Chicago tonight and will spend their off day there, and I suppose sit around all day Friday upset about the change of that game time from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. And their broadcast team spent quite a bit of time during Wednesday’s broadcast talking about this. You’d think the Brewers and their broadcasters would be focusing on playing baseball.

Let’s go into tonight’s game with some more positive notes:

  • The Cubs have the best run differential in the National League since the All-Star break, +81. The Indians lead all teams in that span with +112.
  • The Cubs are 43-23 (.652) in September/October since Joe Maddon took over as manager prior to the 2015 season, the best winning percentage in the majors in that span (Cleveland is second at 41-25/.621).
  • Since July 29, Kris Bryant is hitting .344/.452/.594 with six home runs in 128 at-bats.

Feel better now?

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Jay CF, La Stella 2B, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Happ CF, Avila C, Heyward RF, Baez SS, Quintana P

Pirates lineup:

Marte LF, Luplow RF, McCutchen CF, Freese 3B, Osuna 1B, Rodriguez 2B, Mercer SS, Stewart C, Cole P

Josh Bell is sitting against lefthander Jose Quintana, which is just as well, because Bell has just worn out Cubs pitching this year: .309/.397/.618 (17-for-55) with four home runs. Here’s hoping Bell sits out vs. lefty Jon Lester tomorrow, too.

Jose Quintana vs. Gerrit Cole

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Quintana threw six innings vs. the Pirates last Wednesday and allowed three runs on four hits, striking out nine.

That’s pretty good, but then his opponent last week wasn’t Gerrit Cole. He might have to be a bit better than that tonight.

Oddly, in his only career start at PNC Park, June 16, 2015, he also threw six innings and allowed three runs.

Gerrit Cole has made two starts vs. the Cubs this year, both in April, for a total of 13 innings in which he allowed eight hits and three earned runs, with 15 strikeouts.

Cole leads the major leagues with 28 starts and it appears he might be running out of gas. He’s allowed at least four runs in three of his last four starts and has a 4.97 ERA over that span. The current Cub who hits him best is Anthony Rizzo: 9-for-29 (.310) with four doubles.

Today's game is on WGN.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday (classic mode) (Note: Going forward, I am going to link to the “classic” Gameday here because MLB.com broke the links I used to use to get to their “new” Gameday. If you click on this link, you can then click on “New Gameday” at the bottom of the page to get to the updated version. Note that the “classic” Gameday won’t load until just before game time.)

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

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The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. Here's how it works.

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.

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Discuss amongst yourselves.