Sports Magazine

Game 143: Cubs at Pirates

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Critical series with the Cubs at PNC Park begins this afternoon. Two games today as a doubleheader.
Probables: Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.59) vs. Gerrit Cole (16-8, 2.54)
"Cole, Pirates open crucial series vs. Cubs with twin bill
By Adam Berry / | + 13 COMMENTS
Entering the season's home stretch, the National League Central has turned into a three-team race. The Cardinals still sit atop the division, but the Pirates and Cubs have made it clear they're not going anywhere.
They'll kick off a four-game series on Tuesday with a day-night doubleheader at PNC Park. As the Pirates look to close the gap with the Cardinals and keep the Cubs at bay, Chicago has a prime opportunity to make up ground in both the Wild Card standings and the NL Central.
The Pirates will head into the series trailing the Cardinals by 2 1/2 games in the division standings. But they have a four-game lead over the Cubs for the first NL Wild Card spot.
Game 1 is set to begin at 1:35 p.m. ET with right-handers Gerrit Cole and Jason Hammel on the mound. Game 2 between lefties J.A. Happ and Jon Lester will start at 7:05 p.m.
Cole will start Game 1 for the Pirates on extra rest, an attempt to limit his workload. Cole has a chance to become the first Pirate to win more than 16 games in a season since John Smiley went 20-8 in 1991. He is 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA over his last four starts.
Things to know about these games
• The Cubs lead the season series, 7-5. They will meet seven more times this season, starting Tuesday: four games this week in Pittsburgh, then three games at Wrigley Field on Sept. 25-27.
• Hammel hasn't faced the Pirates since splitting back-to-back starts against them in April. Lester has only started once this season against the Pirates, but it was a dominant effort. The lefty allowed one run and struck out seven over seven innings.
• Happ, Lester's counterpart in Game 2, has been nearly untouchable over his last six starts. The veteran lefty is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA, 36 strikeouts and only five walks since Aug. 14.
Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."

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