When last they met, the Chicago Cubs saw the best and worst of the Pittsburgh Pirates. There have been some developments for both clubs going into a weekend series that starts Friday at Wrigley Field.
Playing twice in the first three series of the season, the Cubs took two of three in the opening games at Wrigley Field. The next week, the Pirates won the final two of three games at Pittsburgh.
That kicked off a bit of an unexpected stretch which had Pittsburgh winning 11 of 16 games after starting 1-6.
Now the rebuilding Pirates are going back in the opposite direction, having lost six of their past seven.
That includes dropping two of three this week at San Diego, where more than 10,000 fans watched the games. The intense fan support for the emerging Padres was not lost on the Pirates.
“The atmosphere was great,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “It’s important for our guys. … You talk about growing moments, teaching moments, (that) atmosphere is awesome for our group. I think we (will) build off it.”
The Cubs, meanwhile, endured a recent 2-7 stretch before a confidence-building three-game sweep against the Los Angeles Dodgers that ended Wednesday with Anthony Rizzo’s game-ending single in the 11th inning for a 6-5 victory.
“Honestly, we’re just riding a roller coaster right now,” Rizzo said. “We’re up and down, up and down, up and down. One thing is, when we’re down, we keep fighting to get back up.”
Things finally feel like they are on the upswing in Chicago after the series sweep.
“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Cubs infielder Matt Duffy said. “I think it kind of reaffirms what we believe in the clubhouse — that we’re a high-quality team, that we’re capable of doing things like we did against (the Dodgers).”
In Friday’s series opener, Pittsburgh right-hander Trevor Cahill (1-3, 7.40 ERA) is scheduled to start against Chicago right-hander Zach Davies (1-2, 8.22 ERA).
Davies has three consecutive no-decisions, most recently Saturday at Cincinnati when he gave up one earned run and four hits in four innings, with three walks and three strikeouts.
He is 5-6 with a 5.06 ERA in 16 career starts against Pittsburgh. This will be his third start against the Pirates this year, with the shortest outing of his career coming April 10 against Pittsburgh when he lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs and five hits.
Davies is 1-1 with an 11.05 ERA against the Pirates this year.
Cahill has struggled in his first season with the Pirates. On Saturday, he gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of a blowout loss to St. Louis. The first inning did him in with four of the first five hitters reaching base as he gave up four runs, including a three-run homer to Paul DeJong.
“I felt pretty comfortable in the first, it was just that one bad pitch,” Cahill said. “I made a mistake, and he didn’t miss it. I think that was the biggest thing, a little dagger to the heart right there in the first.”
Shelton had no problem with Cahill’s assessment.
“He settled down and started to execute, and was really in control after that,” Shelton said. “He kept them off balance, he left the one ball up for the three-run homer that was just a bad breaking ball.”
Against the Cubs, Cahill is 3-2 with a 4.88 ERA in six career games, four of them starts.
–Field Level Media