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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Saturday 4/3, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs look to even up their series against the Pirates.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Notes for Saturday:

BRING ON THE HEAT: One thing we know about today’s game: The weather will be better. Per that forecast, expect the wind to be blowing out, more conducive to hitting.

JAKE’S RETURN: Saturday will be the Cubs‘ 392nd game since Jake Arrieta’s last regular season start for the club (September 26, 2017). 22 pitchers have had longer spans between starts for the Cubs. The record for the longest such span is held by Larry Gura: 1,828 Cubs games passed between Gura starts for the club (July 27, 1973-May 28, 1985). (H/T: Ed Hartig)

PIRATE NUMBERS: The Opening Day loss to the Pirates snapped a 10-game home winning streak against Pittsburgh that dated to April 11, 2019. The Cubs have not lost consecutive games to the Pirates at Wrigley Field since a three-game streak from June 10-September 25, 2018. Since then, the Cubs have won 13 of 15 against Pittsburgh at home.

RUNNING WILLSON: Cubs catcher Willson Contreras stole second base in the third inning on Opening Day, becoming the first Cubs catcher in 78 years to record a stolen base on Opening Day. The previous such catcher: Clyde McCullough on April 21, 1943, also vs. Pittsburgh. It was the second-straight season opener in which McCullough stole a base.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Jake Arrieta, RHP vs. Tyler Anderson, LHP

MLB Photos via Getty Images
MLB Photos via Getty Images

Jake Arrieta makes his Cubs “re-debut” this afternoon. Jake posted a 4.08 ERA and 1.358 WHIP in five spring starts, but my feeling in watching him throw is that he pitched better than that. In a spring where homers were launched out of Cactus League parks at a near-record pace, Jake allowed zero home runs.

He did not face the Pirates last year as a member of the Phillies. In fact, he hasn’t faced a Pirates team since April 19, 2018, when he threw seven one-hit innings against them with 10 strikeouts. Of course, about half of those guys aren’t on the Pirates now.

Current Pirates are hitting .217 (15-for-70) against Jake with 20 strikeouts.

Tyler Anderson, a longtime NL West hurler (Rockies and Giants) is making his first foray into NL Central action. As a West pitcher, he did not face the Cubs last year. His last start against the Cubs was also in 2018, May 2 at Wrigley Field, a solid seven-inning, three-hit outing with nine strikeouts.

No current Cub has more than nine career AB against Anderson. That’s Anthony Rizzo, who’s 4-for-9 against him with a home run. Kris Bryant (3-for-8) has also homered off Anderson.

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

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 2021 Game Thread procedure will be a bit different than previous years. It will be similar to what we’ve used for Spring Training.

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 post related to that particular game, including the First Pitch Thread and the overflow thread, 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 the overflow thread 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 90 minutes after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.