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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Thursday 9/24, 12:35 CT

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They’re all important now, but the Cubs surely don’t want to lose three of four in this series.

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Thirty-six years ago today, the Cubs clinched the NL East title in Pittsburgh, their first postseason appearance in 39 years.

They can’t clinch the NL Central in Pittsburgh today, but a win would go a long way toward reaching that goal.

Thursday notes:

  • THINGS AREN’T AS BAD AS YOU THINK: Despite the two losses in this series, the Cubs are 9-6 over their last 15 games.
  • A BIT OF HISTORY: Anthony Rizzo’s first-inning homer Wednesday night was his 504th extra-base hit with the Cubs, good for 12th-most in franchise history ahead of Bill Nicholson (503 from 1939-48). Aramis Ramirez is 11th on the list with 509 extra-base hits from 2003-11.
  • NOBODY BEATS THE RIZ: In his last eight games since September 15, Rizzo has batted .310/.412/.552 (9-for-29) with a double, two homers and four RBI for a .964 OPS.
  • ROAD WARRIORS: The Cubs have done quite a bit better offensively on the road this season. The ballclub has posted a .237 BA (186-for-785) with 35 homers in 23 road games, compared to a .210 BA (211-for-1,003) with 30 homers in 33 home games.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

I like this lineup. I’ve always said that Anthony Rizzo is probably the team’s best leadoff hitter. David Ross should just leave him there, even when Ian Happ’s in the lineup. How much worse could the offense be?

Also FWIW, Victor Caratini caught Alec Mills’ no-hitter.

Pirates lineup:

Alec Mills, RHP vs. Chad Kuhl, RHP

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

Alec Mills’ follow-up to his no-hitter, last Saturday vs. the Twins, wasn’t as good. But then, neither are most pitchers’ first outings after no-hitters. Mills threw credibly for six innings an a couple of runs charged to him scored after he left the game.

He made essentially one mistake in his only start vs. the Pirates this year, a three-run homer to Bryan Reynolds. Overall he threw five innings and allowed four runs that night (September 3), could have been worse. Mills has been a solid member of the rotation this year and if he can avoid the long ball tonight, should be able to post a good outing. It will be his last regular-season start of 2020.

Chad Kuhl has made one start and one relief appearance against the Cubs this year and the results have not been good: 5⅓ total innings, eight hits, five runs (four earned), three walks.

His last two starts have been horrific: 7⅓ innings, 12.27 ERA, 2.318 WHIP, eight walks. Let’s hope he keeps that up.

Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Pirates market territories).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com 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, titled “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of week/date) game threads.” It will contain every thread related to that particular game, including the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads, as well as the recap when it’s published. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). The StoryStream for each game can also be found in that section.

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.