May 16: Pirates (16-20) @ Cubs (15-22)
The Pirates own the Cubs. Say that again, all at once please.
It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I’d come to Wrigley Field expecting to hear that “Go Cubs Go” chant at the conclusion of every game. There was that stretch where it seemed like the Pirates just could not beat Chicago’s north side team. Now, they can’t lose.
As manager John Russell cautioned… “We can’t take the Cubs lightly… you don’t want to wake a sleeping giant.” In other words, the Pirates aren’t going to continue having their way with the Cubs forever. But so you can get some pleasure out of this current stretch, here are some notes of interest that you might enjoy.
- The Pirates have won seven straight against the Cubs. A win on Sunday would give the Pirates eight wins in a row against Chicago for the first time since 1990.
- For a team that is collectively hitting .237 this season, the Pirates have batted .293 with 32 runs scored in five games against Chicago this year.
- Pittsburgh has scored in the first inning in all five games against Chicago, hitting .481 in that opening frame.
So what does this say about two teams that have such a disparity in payroll and expectations. Cubs third baseman (and former Bucs infielder) Aramis Ramirez chimed in:
“I don’t know. You never know what’s going to happen, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 All Stars on your team or if you have a $150 million payroll. You’ve still got to get it done between the lines. I guarantee [the Pirates’] payroll isn’t even close to us, so that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to get up here and get it done.”
For those counting at home, the Pirates opened the season with a $39 million payroll. The Cubs? $144.4 million.
TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:
- Second baseman Aki Iwamura is out with tightness in his right hamstring and is likely to miss a few games as a result. He felt the hamstring tighten up when running to first as he hit into a seventh-inning double play. Iwamura was pulled out of the game immediately afterward. Manager John Russell said Iwamura could probably pinch hit. A DL stint is not expected to be needed.
- Garrett Jones is out of Sunday’s lineup, too, though for no other reason than to give him some rest. “At some point you have to give a guy a blow,” Russell said.
- First baseman Steve Pearce, who was pulled after feeling tightness behind his right knee on Friday, is running just fine and therefore back in the lineup.
- A win on Sunday would give the Pirates their third sweep of the season. In 2009, the club had a total of three at the end of the year. Too, Pittsburgh has already secured their second winning series on the road this season. They had three last year.
- Sunday’s game ends the “You score as the Bucs score” promotion. The promotional tickets have already been reduced to $10 with the 14 runs scored this series. For more details, go here.
- Lastings Milledge (LF)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Ryan Church (RF)
- Ryan Doumit (C)
- Steve Pearce (1B)
- Bobby Crosby (2B)
- Ronny Cedeno (SS)
- Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)
- Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
- Starlin Castro (SS)
- Derrek Lee (1B)
- Aramis Ramirez (3B)
- Marlon Byrd (CF)
- Alfonso Soriano (LF)
- Mike Fontenot (2B)
- Geovany Soto (C)
- Ted Lilly (LHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB