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[June 16, 2017]
It has been seven weeks since
the Chicago Cubs won a series on the road, and they return to the
site where they last did so when they begin a three-game set against
the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. The Pirates have won four of
six meetings this season, but Chicago took two of three in
Pittsburgh from April 24-26.
Despite a disappointing start that leaves them one game below .500,
the Cubs have never fallen more than three games back in the
National League Central. "I know we have a nice run in us and it's
forthcoming,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters. “It's going to
be a combination of our starters getting more deep in games more
consistently and our offense getting back to its normal methods.
There's nothing to tell me that's not going to happen.” Chicago won
five straight to begin its last homestand earlier this month but has
dropped six of eight since. The Pirates also have been streaky of
late, following a four-game skid with a four-game winning streak
before dropping the finale of a three-game set against Colorado on
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), ROOT Pittsburgh
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Eddie Butler (3-2, 4.03 ERA) vs. Pirates
RH Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.13)
Butler threw six scoreless innings in his Cubs debut on May 12 at
St. Louis, but he hasn’t posted another quality start in five
outings since. The 26-year-old gave up three runs and six hits over
five innings in a loss to Colorado on Saturday. Butler made one
start and one relief appearance against the Pirates last season,
going 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings.
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Williams had put together back-to-back quality starts
before he was dinged for five runs and six hits over four innings
Saturday in a no-decision against Miami. The 25-year-old has allowed
just one run in three of his seven starts, but he hasn’t been able
to consistently produce those results. Williams made two relief
appearances against the Cubs earlier this season, going 1-0 with a
3.60 ERA in five innings.
1. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo is 12-for-31 with three homers during a
nine-game hitting streak and has homered leading off each of the
past two games.
2. Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is 11-for-23 with two home runs
during a six-game hitting streak, raising his average 24 points over
3. Chicago has hit 13 home runs in the past four games but is just
2-2 over that span.
PREDICTION: Cubs 7, Pirates 5
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