National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 3rd
(All times Eastern)
Chicago Cubs (0-2) at Pittsburgh Pirates (2-0), 12:35 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Jason Hammel (0-0, 0.00)
Pittsburgh - Wandy Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00)
(SportsNetwork.com) - There will be no rest for the weary on Thursday when the
Pittsburgh Pirates try to complete a three-game season-opening sweep of the
Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh won a marathon on Wednesday, as Tony Sanchez's pinch-hit RBI single
in the 16th inning carried the Pirates past the Cubs, 4-3, in a contest that
lasted nearly six hours.
Two nights after they edged Chicago, 1-0, on Opening Day, the Pirates plated
the winning run again against Carlos Villanueva (0-2), who surrendered Neil
Walker's walk-off homer in the 10th on Monday.
Jordy Mercer singled to open the deciding frame, hustled to third on Starling
Marte's one-out base hit and trotted home when Sanchez, in his first at-bat of
the season, dribbled one through a drawn-in infield to send the few remaining
Pirates fans into a frenzy.
It was the longest game ever played in Pittsburgh in terms of time (5:55).
Cubs second baseman Emilio Bonifacio had five hits in the loss and is 9-for-12
this season, making him the first player in the modern era with nine hits
through the first two games of a season.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to end the replay-filled stalemate
sooner. Pittsburgh stranded 15 runners and Chicago left 19 on after going 1-
for-16 with runners in scoring position.
"Both teams had opportunities to put this game away before it got taken care
of," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Now, less than 12 hours after that contest ended the Pirates will send left-
hander Wandy Rodriguez to the hill for the first time since last June.
Rodriguez was 6-4 last season for the Pirates, but left his start on June 5
with forearm pain and did not pitch again.
Rodriguez, though, has looked good this spring, pitching to a 3.09 ERA in four
outings while needing only 89 pitches to get through 11 2/3 innings.
"He sure does feel good; the old Wandy is back," Hurdle said. "It's hard to be
yourself when you can't compete, can't participate and can't help. He's
looking forward to pitching, I do know that."
Rodriguez is 9-7 lifetime against the Cubs with a 3.60 ERA in 24 starts. He's
also won his last three games against Chicago, posting quality starts each
Chicago, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jason Hammel, who signed a one-
year contract with the Cubs this winter. Hammel went 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA in 23
starts and three relief outings last season, his second with Baltimore.
A two-time 10-game winner with Colorado, the 31-year-old right-hander has made
at least 20 starts in each of the last five years.
Pittsburgh was 12-7 against the Cubs last season.
04/03 10:27:28 ET