The last time the Chicago Cubs were at PNC Park, they popped a little champagne after defeating the Pirates 4-0 in the National League Wild Card game. While the bubbly probably isn’t on ice this evening, the Cubs are back to once again meet one of their biggest rivals in the NL Central.
Gerrit Cole, who took the loss back in October, takes the mound tonight for the second-place Pirates as Pittsburgh attempts to gain some ground on the first-place Cubs. Despite that loss to the North Siders in the playoffs, the Pittsburgh right-hander has dominated them throughout his career, holding a 7-1 record to go with a 2.88 ERA in nine starts.
The Cubs will counter with Jason Hammel, who’s been nothing short of outstanding thus far in 2016. However, he’ll face his toughest test of the season against a Pirates lineup that led the big leagues in the month of April with a .293 team batting average and a .378 on-base percentage. Perennial MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen has a career .300 average against Hammel, including two home runs and four runs batted in.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon says his team is ready to go.
“I think it should bring out the best in you all the time when you’re playing a really good team. I anticipate we’ll be ready and we’ll play good baseball, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Here’s everything else you need to know about tonight’s series opener.
Chicago Cubs (17-6) at Pittsburgh Pirates (15-10)
Time: 6:05 PM CT
Location: PNC Park
Radio: 670 The Score
TV: CSN, ESPN (out-of-market), MLBN (out-of-market)
Starting Pitchers: Jason Hammel (3-0, 0.75 ERA) vs Gerrit Cole (2-2, 2.78 ERA)
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