Pittsburgh Pirates(2-5) vs. Chicago Cubs (5-2)
MLB: Sunday, August 2, 2020, Wrigley Field, Chicago IL 2:20 ET
The Chicago Cubs are off to a fast start and welcoming the Pittsburgh Pirates to town has already bolstered their spirits. These two teams are heading in opposite directions. That was on display on Friday when the Cubs doubled up Pittsburgh, 6-3. That moved Chicago to 5-2.
Chicago took a 4-0 lead, scoring in three successive innings to take command of this ballgame. Jason Kipnis hit his first home run in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead to two, and Jason Heyward gave the Cubs a four-run lead with a two-run single in the bottom of fifth. Yu Darvish started for Chicago and was outstanding, allowing two hits in six shutout innings. He struck out seven.
Heyward finished with two hits and two RBI. The Pittsburgh offense was led by Colin Moran, who had a pair of hits and drove in a run.
Steven Brault Makes Second Start of 2020It will be a pair of lefties squaring off in this contest, as the Pirates will send Steven Brault to face Jon Lester. Brault has appeared in just one game this season, as he went two innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 27. The left-hander allowed one hit and two walks. Both walks came to start the second inning, but he was able to induce a double play before getting a fly out to end the inning. Then the rains came, and his evening was over.
Brault faced the Cubs three times last season and was rocked in two of those performances. On April 8, he allowed four runs on four hits in a three-inning stint. He rebounded on August 17, allowing a run on two hits in seven innings, but was absolutely shelled on September 13, giving up 10 runs on eight hits, including five home runs in 2.2 innings.
Much of the Pittsburgh lineup has not performed well against Lester in the past. In the expected starting lineup, Adam Frazier has done the best (.545) and Kevin Newman is a solid 5-15 (.333). However, two expected in the lineup are hitting .125 against the Cubs starter and Josh Bell has a .269 batting average.
Pittsburgh is the worst hitting team in baseball right now, posting a .177 batting average and a paltry .541 OPS. They have hit seven home runs in seven games but have scored just 26 runs and have walked only 17 times. The pitching staff has been solid, yet not spectacular. As a team, the Pirates have a 4.35 ERA, allowing 57 hits and 35 walks in 62.0 innings, a WHIP of 1.48.
Lester Looks to Continue His Dominance of PiratesThe shortened season may mean that Lester’s run of double-digit victories will end at seven consecutive seasons. He finished 13-10 last year with a 4.46 ERA in 31 starts. That included a dominating performance against Pittsburgh, going 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA in five starts against the Pirates.
Letser has already earned a victory this season, shutting out the Cincinnati Reds through five innings on July 27. He allowed no hits and one walk, striking out one.
The Cubs have clearly hit Brault well in his three career appearances against the team. Albert Almora, Jr., Kris Bryant, and Victor Caratini all have batting averages of .500 against the left-hander. Javier Baez has a .417 batting average and Wilson Contreras hit .455 against the lefty last year. Bryant and Contreras each hit two homers.
Chicago comes in is one of the top hitting teams in baseball, posting a .254 batting average, sixth-best. Their .829 OPS is third in the league and they are second in all of baseball with 12 home runs. They also have 13 doubles. The pitching staff is struggled, posting a 5.08 ERA. Chicago has allowed 46 hits and 28 walks in 62 innings.
- 10-4 in the last 14 meetings between these two teams.
- 4-1 in their last five games.
- 17-8 in their last 25 games following a win.
- 18-37 in their last 55 games on the road.
- 2-7 in their last nine games.
- 1-11 in their last 12 meetings against the Cubs in Chicago.