MLB Game Preview - Pirates v Cubs

 
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Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Pittsburgh0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 350
Chi Cubs0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 x 460
4
  W: R. Rosario (1-0)   L: K. Crick (3-5)   S: C. Kimbrel (3)
11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE1:20 PM CT, July 12, 2019
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois  Attendance: 40,740

Aces look to regain form in Pirates-Cubs clash

According to STATS
According to STATS

Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs

  1. Pittsburgh has gone 4-3 versus Chicago this season but lost two of three at Wrigley Field in early April. The Pirates have gone 11-11 at Wrigley since 2017, tied with the Brewers for the best record there by a visiting NL Central team in that span (Reds: 7-16, Cardinals: 5-20).
  2. The Pirates won two straight home series heading into the All-Star break, taking three of four from the Cubs and two of three from the Brewers. Pittsburgh has gone 12-5 (.706) since June 19 -- second best in the National League behind only Washington (14-4, .778).
  3. Bryan Reynolds entered the All-Star break with a .342 batting average. This is the fourth-highest pre-break mark by a player in his first MLB season (min. 200 PA), trailing only Joe DiMaggio (.354 in 1936), Richie Ashburn (.351 in 1948) and Ichiro Suzuki (.345 in 2001). Josh Bell hit 27 home runs pre-break; only Willie Stargell (30 in 1973 & 1971) hit more in franchise history.
  4. The Cubs lost five of seven games in the lead up to the break, most recently splitting a road series with the neighboring White Sox. The North Siders have gone 29-16 (.644) at Wrigley Field this season compared to 18-27 (.400) on the road; the .244 difference in win percentage is the largest in MLB.
  5. Javier Baez sports a .289/.324/.556 slash line this season after finishing 2018 with marks of .290/.326/.554. Baez has 56 home runs since last season, tied with Trevor Story for the most among middle infielders.
  6. Pittsburgh's Chris Archer will face Chicago's Yu Darvish. Both have struggled this season (Archer -- 5.49 ERA, Darvish -- 5.01 ERA) but have both had success against their opponent, with Archer sporting a 2.79 ERA in five starts against the Cubs while Darvish has a 3.75 mark in four starts against the Pirates.
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 7/12/2019 thru 7/14/2019

Two years ago, Chris Archer and Yu Darvish were All-Stars. Now they are both trying to regain All-Star form, or something close to it.

They will face off when the regular season resumes for Archer's visiting Pittsburgh Pirates and Darvish's Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon.

It's an important series for both National League Central foes. The Pirates find themselves just 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs for first place in the tightest division race in the majors.

"We're going to need to play better, and I think we, as a team, expect that," Cubs star Kris Bryant told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We completely underperformed in the first half. We let some games get away from us that we could easily have won. The questions and stories would be different right now, but we didn't do that and it's a little disappointing. But there are still a lot of games to be played."

The Pirates are waiting for Archer to turn things around. The right-hander enters the second half at 3-6 with a 5.49 ERA in 15 starts, and he has only pitched beyond six innings twice this season.

Archer and Darvish lead the NL in home runs allowed with 20 each, though Darvish has done so in three more starts. Archer gave up two homers to the Cubs in his last start before the break on July 3, and will be pitching on the north side of Chicago for the fourth time in his career.

Darvish (2-4, 5.01) is second in the league in wild pitches with eight and has six hit batters. He has yet to win at home this season and is 0-6 in his career at Wrigley Field.

The Pirates are powered by All-Star slugger Josh Bell, who led the majors at the break with 30 doubles and 84 RBIs and leads Pittsburgh with 27 home runs.

Bell was asked during All-Star festivities in Cleveland if he thinks the Pirates will make some moves to bolster their chances in the Central. He didn't seem to think much is needed.

"Hey, this is the squad we need. We may need one or two (more) guys here and there, but the guys we have right now are the guys who are going to take us to the next level and the guys who are going to take us to the postseason," Bell told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The Cubs have not been playing especially well of late, and figure to be buyers in the trade market with a half-game division lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. Chicago is 8-12 in its last 20 games, 13-17 in the last 30 and 15-16 against division opponents this season.

The Cubs are 3-4 against the Pirates this season, with just one run separating the teams in total runs scored against each other, 37 for Pittsburgh and 36 for the Cubs.

--Field Level Media

Updated July 11, 2019

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