Game 51: Pirates (24-26) @ Cubs (22-28)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

A major thunderstorm is sitting over the city right now, taking the place of the thick fog that covered Wrigley Field earlier this morning when I arrived. Batting practice is obviously cancelled, and at this point, an on-time start is looking unlikely. It’s never encouraging when the radar shows more red splotches headed this way. I’ll keep you updated on the weather situation via twitter (@langoschmlb).

Assuming the Pirates-Cubs do play at some point, the weather could still affect the umpiring crew. Adrian Johnson, who has been working this series, had to leave for Milwaukee, where he was needed to fill in for a Mark Wegner, who was injured in last night’s game. That meant MLB was flying a replacement umpire to Chicago for this series finale game.

Well, the fog kept his flight from landing on time this morning, and now thunderstorms are delaying air travel in and out of the city. If he doesn’t make it, the game will be played with three umps. “More isn’t always better,” manager Clint Hurdle joked on Sunday morning.

Other news and notes…

  • Steve Pearce warned me that I might not want to talk with him this morning. That was, of course, his way of noting that he feels cursed. He was despondent this morning, worried that the right calf tightness could actually land him on the DL. It hasn’t yet, but Pearce said he was not feeling any better today. He could be used as a pinch-hitter if absolutely necessary, but Pearce can’t run. So if he doesn’t hit the ball out of the park, that could be a problem. Pearce compared the timing of the injury to the one he sustained last May, in that, like last year’s ankle sprain, this injury comes just as he’s getting more playing time and performing well.
  • Everyone in the Pirates’ bullpen is available today after Paul Maholm gave the group the day off on Saturday. Strong starting pitching has really allowed Hurdle the chance to get his relievers some rest. Chris Resop, for one, hasn’t pitched since last Sunday.
  • The Pirates have won four straight on the road for the first time since 2008. They’ve also now won seven road series. That’s how many they won in 2008 and how many they won in 2009-2010 combined. If the Pirates can take Sunday’s game, they’ll have 16 road wins in less than two months. The club won 17 all of last year.
  • Neil Walker and Garrett Jones both have 11 extra-base hits against the Cubs since the start of last year. That’s the most by anyone not named Drew Stubbs. Stubbs has 13. Walker has actually hit safely in all 14 games he’s played against the Cubs. That’s good enough for a .400 average.
  • The last time the Pirates swept the Cubs in Chicago was from May 5-7, 2000. The club doesn’t have a three-game series sweep this season.
  • The 10-run win on Saturday gave the Pirates their largest margin of victory in a road game since 2007, when the team beat the Cardinals, 11-0.
  • Pittsburgh starters have gone nine straight games without allowing more than two earned runs. The starters haven’t allowed a run this series (16 1/3 innings).
  • Triple-A Indianapolis erased a seven-run deficit on Saturday to win 9-7 over Pawtucket. Infielder Josh Harrison finished 5-for-5 with three doubles, three runs scored and two RBIs. And shocker here: Alex Presley had another two hits.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), G. Jones (RF), A. McCutchen (CF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), R. Doumit (C), B. Wood (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), J. Karstens (RHP)

CUBS: K. Fukudome (RF), D. Barney (2B), S. Castro (SS), A. Ramirez (3B), C. Pena (1B), A. Soriano (LF), T. Campana (CF), K. Hill (C), R. Dempster (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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