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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Friday 7/31, 7:15 CT

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field for a weekend series against the Bucs.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Notes for Friday...

  • TRIPLING UP: Duane Underwood Jr., thanks in part to the triple play, threw two scoreless innings Wednesday while facing just four batters. He’s the first pitcher in 20 years to accomplish that feat. The last one: Greg McMichael of the Braves May 11, 2000 against the Marlins (Mike Lowell hit into a triple play that game).
  • TAKING PITCHES: Cubs batters have averaged 4.17 pitches per plate appearance, tops in the majors ahead the Padres (4.12).
  • STREAKING: Kris Bryant enters tonight with a seven-game hitting streak against the Pirates. He’s hitting .444 (12-for-27) with a double, four homers and 10 RBI against Pittsburgh in that span, dating to July 14 of last year.
  • THE ROOK: Nico Hoerner on Tuesday reached 20 career RBI in his first career 24 games since making his major league debut with the Cubs last September 9. He’s just the fourth Cub to record 20 or more RBI within his first 24 career contests. The others: Mandy Brooks (32 RBI in 1925), Joe Kelly (21 RBI in 1926) and Jorge Soler (20 RBI in 2014).
  • LOCAL KID MAKES GOOD: New Pirates manager Derek Shelton is a 1988 graduate of Warren Township High School in Gurnee, where his uniform No. 8 has been retired

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Yu Darvish, RHP vs. Trevor Williams, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Yu Darvish’s first outing of the year was not one to remember, so let’s move on from that.

A better one to remember is his last outing against the Pirates, July 12, 2019. That was his first start of his great second half, and he threw six two-hit innings against the Bucs with one walk and eight strikeouts. Now that’s the kind of start we need to see from Yu tonight.

Trevor Williams’ first start of 2020 was last Saturday against the Cardinals, and it was not good: 3⅔ innings, five hits, three runs.

Last year, Cubs batters absolutely crushed Williams in three starts. 13⅓ innings, 26 (!) hits, nine walks, six home runs, 20 (!) earned runs, 13.50 ERA, 2.625 WHIP. Kyle Schwarber is 8-for-22 vs. Williams (.364) with three home runs, Kris Bryant 6-for-16 (.375) vs. Williams with two home runs... you get the idea.

Unless Williams has made some adjustments, the Cubs should be able to hit him. Hard.

Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here is a list of providers currently carrying Marquee.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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 2020 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.