Chicago Cubs (61-44) at Pittsburgh Pirates (55-52)
|Date & Time||Tuesday July 31, 2018, 7:05 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Pittsburgh Pirates +112 / Chicago Cubs -122 --- Over/Under: 8
The Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates square off in game one of a mini two game NL Central division set from PNC Park in MLB action on Tuesday.
The Chicago Cubs will look to build some momentum after avoiding the sweep at the hands of the rival St. Louis Cardinals by winning the series finale 5-2 on Sunday night baseball. Javier Baez led the Cubs with two RBIs, going 1 for 4 with a double while Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo each hit a solo home run, with Zobrist going 4 for 5 with a double. David Both went 2 for 4 with a double while Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras each contributed a base hit in the win. Kyle Hendricks got the win to improve to 7-9 this season after giving up two runs on four hits while striking out eight over seven innings of work. Pedro Strop closed out the 9th for his 5th save of the season. Jon Lester will start game one and is 12-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts this season. In his career, Lester is 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA and 78 strikeouts against Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to bounce back after having to settle for a series split with the New York Mets following a 1-0 loss in the series finale on Sunday. Gregory Polanco went 3 for 4 while Starling Marte, David Freese and Sean Rodriguez each added a base knock as none of Pittsburgh’s six hits as a team went for extra bases in the loss. Joe Musgrove took the loss, falling to 4-5 this season after allowing the one run on five hits over seven innings of work. Jameson Taillon will start game one and is 7-8 with a 3.73 ERA and 114 strikeouts this season. In his career, Taillon is 2-3 with a 5.06 ERA and 22 strikeouts against the Cubs.
Chicago is 23-4 in Lester’s last 27 series opening starts and 6-0 in Lester’s last 6 road starts while the under is 6-1 in their last 7 games overall. Pittsburgh is 1-4 in Taillon’s last 5 home starts and 13-3 in their last 16 games overall while the under is 3-1-1 in their last 5 games overall. Chicago is 4-0 in Lester’s last 4 starts against Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is the much hotter of the two teams coming into this one, but the Pirates have had trouble with Taillon on the bump at home. The Cubs have been hard to take down with Lester on the hill, winning 23 of his last 27 starts that kick off a series. If the Cubs were swept on Sunday I probably would’ve went Pittsburgh here, but the Cubs got some momentum and some motivation to build on their division lead with the win on Sunday so I’ll back the Cubs to draw first blood on Tuesday.