Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Pick & Prediction SEPTEMBER 21st 2023

Stadium: Wrigley Field Chicago
Logo Pittsburgh Pirates
Logo Chicago Cubs

8.5o -105
-1.5 -109



The Chicago Cubs aren't making things easy on themselves when it comes to securing a postseason spot.

They'll look to avoid a second straight loss, and series defeat, to another sub-.500 club in this rubber game against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.

Chicago (79-73) currently holds the final National League wild-card position -- a half-game lead over the Miami Marlins -- but has dropped nine of 12. The Cubs are 2-3 against Colorado and Pittsburgh -- a combined 50 games under .500 -- during that rut. They snapped a five-game skid with Tuesday's 14-1 rout of the Pirates, but fell 13-7 on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh (71-81) used a seven-run fourth inning, knocking out Chicago ace Justin Steele in the process, to beat the Cubs for just the second time in 12 season meetings. The Pirates also snapped a six-game slide at Wrigley Field.

"Kind of have to move on from it," said Steele, an NL Cy Young Award candidate who has allowed six earned runs in each of his past two starts.

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In his career vs. the Pirates, Steele is 1-2 with an ERA of 5.40 and 31 strikeouts in six games (five starts).

The Cubs are 2-1 with scheduled starter Kyle Hendricks (6-7, 3.77 ERA) on the mound this month. However, the veteran right-hander owns a 4.96 ERA and hasn't completed six innings in any of those September outings. Hendricks allowed three runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings of Saturday's 7-6, 13-inning loss at Arizona.

Hendricks, though has been solid against Pittsburgh this season, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA. However, Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes is 8-for-18 with a double and two homers versus Hendricks.


Hayes is 5-for-9 in this series, and batting .342 with 27 RBIs in his past 37 games for the Pirates, who are hoping to ride veterans like Hayes and some promising youth to a solid finish. And, possibly deliver a blow to the Cubs' postseason chances.

"It's a good environment for them to be in a playoff atmosphere here in Chicago," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

"We're getting different experiences. ... The biggest thing that we can take is how we focus on it, and how we get better."

Scheduled Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo (8-14, 4.27) faces the Cubs for a third time this season. On June 15, he allowed four runs and eight hits through 4 1/3 innings of a 7-2 loss at Wrigley Field. However, despite the Pirates' 4-0 loss at home to Chicago five days later, the right-hander yielded just two runs in six innings.

He is 1-4 with an ERA of 4.19 and 39 strikeouts in nine career appearances (eight starts) against the Cubs.

Oviedo allowed eight runs -- six earned -- through 7 1/3 innings of his first two September starts. Then, he overcame five walks and four hits to give up a single run, while striking out seven, during Friday's 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees.

Chicago star and Pittsburgh native Ian Happ is 8-for-16 with two doubles and two triples versus Oviedo. Happ, who clubbed a grand slam Wednesday, is batting .321 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs in 94 career games against the Pirates.

With three hits Tuesday and an RBI single on Wednesday, teammate Seiya Suzuki is batting .355 with 30 RBIs and an OPS of 1.114 in his past 38 games.

--Field Level Media

Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Recap SEP 21TH 2023

Joshua Palacios clubbed a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth after Johan Oviedo grinded through six scoreless innings as the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates beat the reeling Chicago Cubs 8-6 on Thursday night.

Oviedo (9-14) allowed five walks and four hits but evaded danger as Chicago (79-74) stranded 10 runners with him on the mound. Oviedo loaded the bases in the third but struck out Dansby Swanson to end the inning.

Pittsburgh (72-81) led 5-1 until the Cubs scored three times in the eighth.

However, a throwing error by Chicago third baseman Miles Mastrobuoni thwarted a potential double play after Bryan Reynolds was thrown out at the plate on Ke'Bryan Hayes' double in the ninth, and Jack Suwinski followed with a walk. Palacios then took Julian Merryweather deep into the right-center-field bleachers to effectively seal the victory.

Swanson belted a two-run homer off Pittsburgh closer David Bednar in the ninth. But Bednar retired the next three batters, fanning two, for the Pirates, who improved to 3-10 against Chicago this season.

Miguel Andujar (three RBIs) and Connor Joe each had three hits for Pittsburgh, which is 14-8 since Aug. 28.

The Cubs, meanwhile, suffered their 10th loss in 13 games. Chicago's Kyle Hendricks (6-8) allowed three runs (one earned) and seven hits in six innings.

After stranding three men in the first two innings, the Pirates came through in the third. Joe singled and went to second on a rare fielding error from Swanson. With two outs, Andujar sent a line-drive, two-run double to left-center field that made it 2-0.

Pittsburgh made it 3-0 in the fifth when Hayes doubled, went to third on Suwinski's single and scored on Andujar's base hit. Following an RBI single from Swanson that pulled the Cubs within 3-1, the Pirates added two more runs in the eighth on Ji Hwan Bae's RBI triple and a run-scoring single from Joe.

Chicago's half of the eighth featured Mike Tauchman's RBI double, a wild pitch that scored Mastrobuoni and a run-scoring groundout from Nico Hoerner.

--Field Level Media