Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/14/12

Pirates (72-70) at Cubs (56-87)

2:20 PM EST–Wrigley Field, Chicago

Here is the MLB.com Gameday

TV: ROOT Sports, WGN

Well, the Pirates have gotten chance after chance after chance to stay in the wild card hunt despite their awful play recently. And here comes another chance, as they still somehow sit only three games out. 

The Pirates are in Chicago for a four game set against the Cubs this weekend. They face three starters with a combined record of 9-23, with the fourth making his major league debut. The Cardinals and Dodgers play each other this weekend, so if the Pirates win the series they can definitely gain on at least one of those two . The surging Phillies finally lost last night–to the Astros. The Pirates aren’t in a terribly ideal position, but they’re still at the point where a little hot-streak can change that in a week. But that needs to happen soon.

Today’s lineup features Starling Marte in there for the first time in a couple days, along with the return of Pedro Alvarez (hitting seventh). Michael McKenry is in there at catcher, and Gaby Sanchez plays first while Garrett Jones mans right field. Still no Neil Walker.

Today’s starters…

 James McDonald (12-7, 3.93) vs. Chris Rusin (0-2, 5.73)

J-Mac’s last start wasn’t terrible, which is an improvement for him considering that it wasn’t against his new favorite opponent, the Cardinals. He gave up 3 runs in 5.2 innings against these Cubs, but only struck out two. For the zillionth time, he’s going to need to be better than that. And he has it in him…but time’s running out.

Rusin last pitched against the Bucs on Sunday, and yielded just one run (an Andrew McCutchen HR) on five hits in five innings. The lefty’s previous start lasted just one inning in a disastrous outing against the Nats, and his only other start was his big-league debut (which also lasted just five innings).

Cubs vs. McDonald:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Starlin Castro 15 14 4 0 0 1 1 1 2 .286 .333 .500 .833 Darwin Barney 14 13 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 .308 .357 .308 .665 Alfonso Soriano 11 10 2 0 0 2 3 1 5 .200 .273 .800 1.073 David DeJesus 6 5 2 1 0 0 2 1 1 .400 .500 .600 1.100 Anthony Rizzo 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .333 .200 .533 Luis Valbuena 6 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 .000 .167 .000 .167 Chris Volstad 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 Tony Campana 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 Welington Castillo 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000 Bryan LaHair 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 Jeff Samardzija 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 Dave Sappelt 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333 Joe Mather 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 Total 79 70 16 3 0 3 7 6 13 .229 .295 .400 .695 Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.

Pirates vs. Rusin:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Brock Holt 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 Garrett Jones 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 Starling Marte 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 Andrew McCutchen 3 2 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 .500 .667 2.000 2.667 Pedro Alvarez 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 Clint Barmes 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 Jeff Locke 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 Michael McKenry 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 Gaby Sanchez 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 Total 22 19 5 0 0 1 1 3 4 .263 .364 .421 .785 Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/14/2012.
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