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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Tuesday 7/2, 6:05 CT

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It can’t possibly be worse than last night. Right?

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Notes for an “it can’t be worse than yesterday” day:

  • The Cubs are 16-24 on the road so far this year, which isn’t good. But they have also had mediocre or bad records over their first 40 road games in three of the last four seasons: 21-19 (2018), 17-23 (2017) and 20-20 (2015). They fixed that first-half road issue this way: 23-18 (2018), 30-14 (2017) and 28-13 (2015). (I left the 2016 team off this list as they were good on the road all year.) Overall the Cubs posted a road record of 182-141 (.563) from 2015-18, the best mark in the N.L. They have won on the road before and I am certain they will again.
  • Javier Baez hit his 21st home run Monday night. Baez is the first shortstop and only the second middle infielder in franchise history to reach 21 home runs prior to the All-Star break. Ryne Sandberg had 24 homers at the break in 1990, finishing with 40 that year, the only year Ryno led the league in HR.
  • Also, Javy is well ahead of his home run paces of the last two seasons. Last year he hit his 21st homer on July 28 and in 2017 he hit his 21st homer on September 2.
  • The Cubs enter tonight’s game in second place, one game behind Milwaukee in the N.L. Central. The Cubs have been within 1½ games of first place, up or down, every single day, since May 26.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Joe Musgrove, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks returns from two weeks on the injured list without a rehab assignment. This, to me, is peak Kyle Hendricks. Nothing ever seems to bother him. You’ve probably seen this before:

That’s just perfect. Kyle was on a great run before his start in L.A. June 14, the one that put him on the IL (previous eight starts: 1.99 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, .199 opponents BA, just six walks in 48⅔ innings). He has not faced the Pirates this year; overall current Pirates are hitting .238 (35-for-147) against him with three home runs, two by Gregory Polanco, who has 10 of those 35 hits (10-for-28, .357).

Joe Musgrove was responsible for this little kerfuffle [VIDEO] in May 2018 at PNC Park.

As usual for such things, no one was injured or ejected.

This year, Musgrove has had some good outings but quite a few in which he’s been hit really hard. The Cubs defeated him 2-0 April 11 at Wrigley Field. Believe it or not, Daniel Descalso had two hits off Musgrove in that game — that represents seven percent of all the hits Descalso has had this season.

Musgrove’s last two starts, against the Padres and Astros, have been pretty good: 13 innings, no runs, no walks, 13 strikeouts, so the Cubs are facing him when he’s on a bit of a roll.

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 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. 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.