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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Friday 8/17, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs go for two in a row over the Bucs.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The possibility exists, again, for rain in the Pittsburgh area tonight.

The radar loop that was apparently broken yesterday has been fixed, so here it is for your reference.

Friday notes:

  • Thursday’s win was the third 1-0 Cubs victory over the Pirates since the start of last season, all coming in Pittsburgh (also April 25, 2017 and September 6, 2017).
  • The Cubs have won their last five one-run decisions dating to August 3 to move above .500 in those games (18-17). That appears to be a trend: The Cubs are 8-1 in their last nine one-run games since July 13 after starting the year 10-16 in those contests.
  • Anthony Rizzo is back in the cleanup spot (for now, anyway), but his contributions at leadoff should not be minimized: In 28 games batting leadoff this season, Rizzo has hit .333 (35-for-105) with six doubles, one triple, six homers and 14 walks, contributing to a .432 OBP. The Cubs have gone 16-12 (.571) with Rizzo leading off.
  • Pedro Strop leads the N.L. and is tied for second in the majors with eight saves since the All-Star break. Strop has nine saves in 10 chances spanning his last 19 outings since June 27, having posted a 2.04 ERA (four earned runs in 17⅔ innings) in that stretch with four walks and 20 strikeouts.
  • Happy birthday, Victor Caratini! He’s 25 today and in the starting lineup.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Trevor Williams, RHP

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels has been lights-out in his three Cubs starts: 1.00 ERA, four walks and 20 strikeouts in 18 innings, no home runs allowed. He seems totally rejuvenated.

That includes five solid innings against the Pirates August 1 at PNC Park, in which he allowed three hits, two walks, an unearned run and struck out nine. I’ll take another one like that, please, maybe with one or two more innings.

Trevor Williams has been outstanding lately. Over his last five starts: 0.62 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, only one home run in 29 innings. His only start vs. the Cubs this year: April 12 at Wrigley Field, where he threw six innings and allowed one run. The run was a homer by Kyle Schwarber.

Williams is a pitch-to-contact guy who doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters (six per nine innings overall, and even fewer recently, 4.5 per nine since June 30). So, the game plan tonight should be to try to get balls in play.

Fun fact about this pitching matchup: Cole Hamels and Trevor Williams are both graduates of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego. Williams served as the captain of the Broncos baseball team in his senior year (2010) and Hamels graduated in 2002.

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.