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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Saturday 5/8, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs go for their fifth consecutive win.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Saturday notes...

  • STILL CLOSE CALLS: Five of the Cubs’ last six games have been decided by one run, with the team going 4‐1 in those one‐run contests. The Cubs are 7‐3 (.700) in one‐run games this year, the third‐best win percentage in the majors behind the Athletics (8‐2/.800) and Royals (6‐2/.750).
  • JUST HOW LONG HAD IT BEEN? Friday, Rex Brothers recorded his 21st career save. It was his first in seven years and 220 days, the last one before that coming on September 29, 2013 vs. the Dodgers while with the Rockies. Elias Sports Bureau notes the seven years, 220 days between saves is the second longest span for a Cubs pitcher between saves. Jeff Fassero’s save for Chicago on April 5, 2001 against Montreal came seven years, 279 days after his previous save, June 30, 1993 vs. the Pirates while with the Expos.
  • GOOD STARTS: Through the first four games of this homestand, Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 1.19 ERA (three earned runs in 22⅔ innings) with five walks, 16 strikeouts, a .210 opponent batting average (17‐for‐81) and a .581 opponent OPS.
  • JAVY NEWS: Javier Báez in his last 12 games since April 21 has hit .326/.340/.652 (15‐for‐46) with a double, a triple, four homers and 13 RBI to raise his season slash line to .255/.289/.528 from .200/.250/.433. He is tied with Jesus Aguilar for the NL lead in RBI with 25.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Trevor Williams, RHP vs. Wil Crowe, RHP

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY NETWORK

Trevor Williams faced his former team April 11 at PNC Park. It did not go well, don’t look at that link, don’t say I didn’t warn you. My guess is that he was a bit over-amped, pitching in his old home park, maybe wanting to “prove something.”

Four of Williams’ other five starts have been pretty good. In those four: 3.00 ERA, 1.190 WHIP, 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. He had a rough one against the Reds in Cincinnati last Sunday, though.

At Wrigley Field this year: 2.81 ERA, 1.063 WHIP in three starts covering 16 innings. This is a Wrigley Field start, of course, so I expect good things from Trevor.

The Pirates acquired Wil Crowe from the Nationals last December for Josh Bell. He made three starts for Washington last year and... yikes, 11.88 ERA and 2.640 WHIP.

He’s been a bit better in three games (two starts) for the Pirates so far this year: 4.66 ERA, 1.655 WHIP. His biggest issue has been walks, 16 in 18 career MLB innings, though he had a much better walk rate (3.1 per nine innings) in 290 minor league innings.

He pitched against the Cubs in relief April 3 at Wrigley Field and issued a couple of walks and threw two wild pitches while retiring only two of the five batters he faced.

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

Beth Mowins will call today’s (and tomorrow’s) game on Marquee with Jim Deshaies. She’ll become the first woman to call a Cubs regular-season game. (She worked one spring training game this past March.) In a statement, Mowins said, “I’m thrilled to get to Wrigley Field this weekend and call Cubs games. Cubs fans bring a special energy to the park and I look forward to taking it all in this weekend.”

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.