Not-so-fun fact: The last time any Pirates team swept any Cubs team in a four-game (or more) series was more than 36 years ago, a five-game sweep June 20-23, 1983 (including a doubleheader June 20). Needless to say, we hope that is not matched today.
There is a chance of scattered storms around the Pittsburgh area, so here’s the local radar to keep handy this afternoon:
- AGAINST THE PIRATES: The Cubs and Pirates celebrate the Fourth of July together in Pittsburgh for the first time in 39 years, as the Cubs swept a doubleheader from the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium on July 4, 1980. The Cubs won the first game 4-2, and also won the second game, 2-1. Combined time of the two games: 4 hours and 55 minutes. (Try doing that in a doubleheader in 2019.)
- AGAINST THE LEAGUE: The Cubs have won four of their last five games on July 4 after losing four of their previous five games from 2009-13. The Cubs are on the road on Independence Day for the first time on July 4 since 2014 in Washington.
- COMEDY CENTRAL UPDATE: The N.L. Central has reached July 4 with all five teams separated by 4½ games. It’s the first time any division has begun action on July 4 separated by 4½ games or fewer since the 2013 N.L. West was separated by four games on that date. Moreover, the N.L. Central itself has reached July 4 with all five teams separated by 4½ games or less for the first time ever. Lastly, every N.L. Central team has a losing record on the road and every N.L. Central team has a winning record at home.
- THE LONG MARCH: The Cubs today conclude a stretch of 50 games in 52 days that began on May 14. They are 21-28 in the 49 games of that stretch to date.
Here are today’s particulars.
Robel Garcia gets his first big-league start. Jason Heyward, still out.
Jose Quintana, LHP vs. Jordan Lyles, RHP
His start against the Pirates earlier this year, April 11 at Wrigley Field, was excellent: seven shutout innings, one walk, a season-high 11 strikeouts. The Cubs could use another one of those. Current Pirates are hitting .224 (22-for-98) against Jose with 25 strikeouts.
Eight years after he made his MLB debut at Wrigley Field as a highly-touted 20-year-old for the Astros, Jordan Lyles is finally having the season he, and his teams, had hoped for. That’s what the overall numbers say, but his last five starts have been pretty bad: 6.93 ERA, 1.541 WHIP.
His outing against the Cubs earlier this year, April 10 at Wrigley Field, was excellent: six innings, three hits, one run, 10 strikeouts. The run was a solo homer by Jason Heyward, who’s been a hot hitter lately; unfortunately, he’s not in today’s lineup. It was windy and cold that night at Wrigley; the weather conditions today should be much more conducive to baseball.
Today’s game is on WGN. It’s also on ESPN (outside the Cubs and Pirates market territories).
SB Nation game preview
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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.