Series Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates @ Chicago Cubs, June 28-30 2010
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 8-1 versus the Chicago Cubs this year. They are 17-49 versus the rest of the league. It's been that kind of season for the Pirates, and of course the Cubs as the Buccos come into Wrigley Field for this weekday set. The Cubs are coming home after losing 2 of 3 a few miles to the south of Wrigley (Hey! I predicted that!), while the Pirates have been struggling as well, even moreso than the Cubs. They've got losing streaks of 12 and 6 sandwiched around 2 wins in their last 20 games. The only real reason for optimism in Pittsburgh is that their penny-pinching ownership finally gave the green light to call up blue-chip prospect Pedro Alvarez. Despite being more than ready, and despite incumbent 3B Andy LaRoche sucking out loud this year, Alvarez stayed in AAA Indianapolis until there was no chance he could head to arbitration a year early and get a bigger contract that he, you know, actually earned. He's off to a slow start, but that will change as long as everyone's patient with him.
Monday - Paul Maholm (4-6, 4.24) vs. Randy Wells (3-6, 5.21)
It's time to stop sugarcoating it, Randy Wells has flat out not been good for the majority of this year. I'm not sure if it's a sophomore slump, or if the league now has a good book on his assortment of non-overwhelming stuff, or exactly what - but the results have been brutal this year. His last start in Seattle was no exception as he could never get going, and gave up 10 hits and 6 runs in 6 innings. Maholm was even worse in his last start. He gave up 7 hits and 5 runs in just 1 inning - a career low. Besides that blip, however, Maholm has been their best starter this year. The Cubs should be plenty familiar with him, as he beat the Cubs twice in 11 days in early May.
Tuesday - Jeff Karstens (2-2, 4.60) vs. Theodore Lilly (2-6, 3.28)
Karstens' picture would be in the baseball dictionary under the picture of "underwhelming back of the rotation righty" if such a dictionary actually existed. He's a former Yankees farmhand who's now 28, and really a "what you see is what you get" finished product. And what he is isn't all that exciting. Last time out he allowed 8 runs in 5 1/3 innings of work against Texas. Lilly gave the Cubs 6 solid innings last Thursday against the Mariners, but didnt figure in the decision as that game went 13 innings before the Cubs were able to eke one out. With the Cubs being dreadful, the rumor mill has started to grumble where Lilly is concerned, and there are reports circulating that the Mets might be interested in the Free Agent to-be.
Wednesday - Brad Lincoln (0-2, 6.00) vs. Tom Gorzellany (2-5, 3.41)
The matinee on Wednesday will be an interesting pitching matchup. Lincoln was drafted 4th overall in the 2006 MLB draft and promptly got hurt. He needed Tommy John surgery, which wiped out his entire 2007 season. He was drafted 3 spots before Clayton Kershaw, 6 spots in front of Tim Lincecum, and also in front of Tyler Colvin, the Cubs first round pick that season. He finally made his big league debut this year, and will be making his 5th MLB start against the Cubs. He's had 2 awful starts and 2 just "OK" ones thus far. Hard to say what he'll do on Wednesday - maybe he'll go ahead and throw a no-hitter. Gorzo will be making his first start since May 26th, filling in for the now "restricted" Carlos Zambrano. Honestly - I'd rather see Gorzo pitch than Z right now. I'm sick of Zambrano, I'm sick of his antics and I wish he'd just go the fuck away for a while. And this is coming from one of Z's biggest fans over the past 8 years.
So..if you're like me and still holding out some hope that the Cubs can get their shit together and make a little run - this series would be a nice spot to start. We owe these guys, and we need a sweep. As miserable as we've been (and we've been awful), we're still just 8 1/2 games out. We're not out of the race. Let's get the sweep.