|5:05 PM PT6:05 PM MT7:05 PM CT8:05 PM ET20:05 ET0:05 GMT8:05 5:05 PM MST7:05 PM EST7:35 PM VEN4:05 UAE (+1)7:05 PM CT, September 25, 2018
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 33,443
Cubs need to get offense going vs. Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
- The Cubs and Pirates have combined for 105 runs in 15 games this season (7.0 combined runs per game). That is the fifth-lowest scoring matchup between any divisional opponents in MLB this season (Cubs vs. Brewers is lowest-scoring).
- The Cubs had 15 hits in their win yesterday, and for the 14th time overall this season; that ties with the Indians for the most in MLB this season, and is three more such games than any other NL team.
- Corey Dickerson has two hits and a run in each of his last three games, and is hitting .313 with a .882 OPS in September. Dickerson's .882 OPS is .414 points higher than his OPS in August (.468), giving him the most improved mark in the National League (min. 50 PA each month).
- In his last four starts, Daniel Murphy has eight hits, seven runs scored and a .444/.474/.833 slash line. He has scored 18 runs in 27 games with the Cubs this season after scoring 17 runs in 56 games for the Nationals.
- The Pirates have won each of Jameson Taillon's last six starts, in which he has posted a 4-0 record and a 1.66 ERA. Five of the seven runs he allowed over this six-start span were via solo home runs.
- Cole Hamels has allowed two home runs in each of his last two starts after allowing just one home run in his first eight starts for the Cubs. The Cubs have now lost three of Hamels' last four starts since winning each of his first six starts with the team.
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- Kershaw dominant, Dodgers take 3-2 lead
- Red Sox's Sale won't pitch ALCS Game 5
- Machado fined for kicking 1B Aguilar
- Astros cleared by MLB in photo incident
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have always found reason to remain optimistic despite the times this season when they have struggled to score runs. The reason? Boasting the National League's best record and holding down the top spot in the Central Division have kept them from losing hope.
But as the Cubs wind down the regular season this week starting with Tuesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the reality of a tight-knit race in the Central and the inability to push runs across at critical times no longer can be ignored.
The Cubs were unable to do their part in reducing their magic number following a 5-1 loss to the Pirates on Monday in which Chicago left the bases loaded once and stranded a runner in scoring position with the Cubs trailing by a pair of runs. Chicago's lone run on Monday came on a solo home run by pitcher Cole Hamels.
"The offense has taken a hit -- there's no question," manager Joe Maddon told reporters earlier this month, according to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. "There's just no other way to look at it. I think we have to find that within ourselves."
As the Cubs finish off this week against divisional rivals, they face an increasingly growing possibility they could face either the Milwaukee Brewers or the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs as the two NL Central foes currently hold down the top spots in the wild-card race.
"Who has the advantage (in the playoffs)? I don't know. Whoever pitches better that night has the advantage," Maddon told reporters Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "It's hard to do something different or new because both sides know each other pretty well. I totally agree with that. I've worried about that in the past, but I think I've learned not to because if you trust your players and put everyone out there and you're in good health, you have just as good a shot as they do."
But before the Cubs can turn their focus to the postseason, they must still find a way to finish strong this week.
Mike Montgomery (5-5, 3.75 ERA) will take the mound for the Cubs on Tuesday. Montgomery is coming off a solid six-inning effort against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who he held to one earned run and four hits while striking out eight. Montgomery is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in nine career appearances (three starts) against Pittsburgh.
Chris Archer will face Montgomery as he looks for his third victory since joining the Pirates earlier this season. Archer (5-8, 4.49) allowed just one run and six hits and struck out eight over seven innings in his last outing against the Kansas City Royals. Archer is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.
After Jameson Taillon shut down the Cubs on Monday, Archer hopes to build on his recent performance.
"The one thing I hang my hat on is making starts and pitching deep into ballgames," Archer said after his last start, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Giving up way more runs than I wanted to this year, but the thing that frustrates me the most is my average innings. It has to be the lowest of my career, but there's a correlation. The better you pitch, the deeper you pitch into games."
Updated September 25, 2018