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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Tuesday 7/31, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs make a quick two-game stop at PNC Park.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Oh, yes. With all the trade deadline hoopla, there’s also a game to be played tonight. And hey, guess what? Rain is in the forecast for the Pittsburgh area tonight.

If they have rain problems, the Cubs do return to Pittsburgh ... in about two weeks. (Thanks, schedule-makers.) So they do have makeup date possibilities. But if that forecast turns out to be accurate... there’s rain in the Pittsburgh-area forecast for tomorrow, too.

Here’s the radar to keep handy for tonight:

Other notes for today’s game:

  • The Cubs have hit 11 homers in their last seven games on the road, averaging 5.1 runs in those contests (36 runs total). Ben Zobrist’s .424 road OBP ranks second in the N.L. (Joey Votto leads, .436) while his .331 road batting average (48-for-145) ranks fifth.
  • This is the final game of July and the Cubs have a 15-9 record this month, the team’s eighth consecutive winning month dating to June of last year. The last losing month was May 2017 (12-16).
  • More July numbers: Ben Zobrist leads the team with a .328 average (21-for-64) this month while Javier Baez, who has a .326 average (31-for-95) in July, leads the team with eight doubles, five homers and 20 RBI. Willson Contreras leads the club with a .413 OBP in July. And Kyle Hendricks, who allowed two runs in seven innings Sunday night, leads the club with 35.0 innings pitched and 33 strikeouts this month compared to just five walks.
  • Anthony Rizzo leadoff update: .411/.500/.696 (23-for-56) with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and nine walks. Cubs are 9-6 in the 15 games since he was moved to leadoff.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Jameson Taillon, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Some of Jon Lester’s best games as a Cub have been against the Pirates. For example, June 9 at Wrigley Field: seven one-hit innings. Overall against the Pirates this year, though: 4.00 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and that’s partly because of this start at PNC Park May 29.

Jon did not have a good July (6.31 ERA, 1.792 WHIP in five starts), but his last outing, July 25 at Wrigley vs. the Diamondbacks, was a good one (six innings, four hits, no walks, one run).

Let’s hope that’s a sign of the good Lester from the first half re-surfacing.

Jameson Taillon has been pretty consistent most of this year and his last three starts have been excellent: 1.96 ERA, 1.145 WHIP in 18⅓ innings, at last fulfilling what the Pirates hoped they had when they took him second overall in the 2010 draft.

He has not faced the Cubs since September 7, 2017 and they hit him hard that night: 11 hits, six runs in 4⅔ innings. Current Cubs are hitting .370 (27-for-73) against Taillon with three home runs, two by Anthony Rizzo, who’s 8-for-13 overall against him.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago.

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 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. 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.

Discuss amongst yourselves.