|11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE1:20 PM CT, June 10, 2018
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 40,735
Cubs go for sweep of Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
- The Pirates have lost their last six series, amassing a 6-14 record in those games. They are an even .500 (31-31) for just the second time this season. They still have the third-highest team OPS in the National League (.741), behind only the Cubs and Braves.
- The Cubs are 5-1 (.833) in June, tied for the best record in MLB. They are holding opponents to an MLB-low .175 batting average thus far in June. They have already recorded two games of 17 hits in June, and have reached this mark an MLB-leading four times this season. Nine teams in MLB are yet to reach 17 hits in a game this season.
- Chad Kuhl has recorded quality starts in his last three outings; the only other time in his career he reached this mark, he extended the streak to five consecutive quality starts in his rookie season (2016). His first pitch strike percentage is 55.6 percent this season, which ranks 83rd out of 90 qualifying pitchers in MLB.
- Mike Montgomery has allowed just one run on a solo home run in 11.2 innings of work as a starting pitcher this season. His ground ball rate in all appearances this season is 63.4 percent, the best mark in baseball (minimum 35 innings).
- Corey Dickerson is on a seven-game hit streak in which he is slashing .414/.433/.517 and has four multi-hit games and eight runs scored (including four in one game). Dickerson is a career .379 hitter against the Cubs, which is the best mark by any player since Dickerson entered the league in 2013 (minimum 70 PA).
- Anthony Rizzo has recorded at least one hit in 17 of his past 19 games, and is slashing .352/.442/.606 in those games. In the Cubs' last series, Rizzo went 4-for-10, scored three runs and drove in four more, including home runs in his last two games.
CHICAGO -- When the season started, Kyle Hendricks expected to be part of the reason the Chicago Cubs could count themselves among the favorites in the National League.
But like the Cubs, the right-hander has battled inconsistency thus far but understands the need to establish a rhythm. The Cubs, who will attempt to close out a three-game sweep Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, have done just that by winning 11 of their past 13 games to move to a season-best 13 games over .500.
Hendricks, who takes the mound in the series finale at Wrigley Field, is hoping to follow suit.
"I've just got to get back to work this week and just really dial everything in," Hendricks said after his last start against the Philadelphia Phillies when he allowed five runs over five innings.
Hendricks (4-5, 3.59 ERA) has been looked upon to be one of the Cubs aces, along with Jon Lester, who shut out the Pirates in Saturday's 2-0 victory. But after winning two of his first three starts to begin the season, Hendricks has lost three of his last four outings heading into Sunday.
Hendricks is 4-4 in 12 career starts against the Pirates with a 3.24 ERA.
The Cubs continued to keep surging in the right direction Sunday as manager Joe Maddon elected to keep Kris Bryant at the top of the batting order. In his first career leadoff hitting appearance Friday, Bryant went 3-for-4 and scored a run. Bryant accounted for a Cubs run again Saturday, but Maddon admitted before Saturday's game that he's unsure of how long he will keep Bryant in the top spot.
"I don't know; I honestly don't know," Maddon said via the Cubs' official website. "He does such a great job of getting on base. I like where Jason Heyward is right now (batting second). You can hit Ben Zobrist anywhere. I honestly don't know (about Bryant). I'm playing it by feel on this one and will try to determine the right thing to do on a daily basis."
The Pirates will attempt to avoid being swept Sunday, but Saturday's loss secured their seventh straight series loss, dating back to the middle of May. Pittsburgh dropped to two games under .500 for the season while collecting only one hit -- an Austin Meadows triple -- off Lester and relievers Justin Wilson and Steve Cishek.
The latest loss compounded Pittsburgh's recent offensive struggles, which led manager Clint Hurdle to drop first baseman Josh Bell from the cleanup spot to hitting sixth. Bell is batting .233 with four home runs and 34 RBIs after going 0-for-2 with a walk Saturday.
According to the Pirates' team website, Hurdle discussed the move with Bell on Friday.
"He's still going to hit. He's going to hit two batters later," Hurdle said. "He may hit with more men on base in this position. He may hit with less men on base in this position. I don't know, but it's something different. We've rearranged the living room furniture. ... He's got to find a different way across the room. That's all."
Joe Musgrove will start for the Pirates on Sunday. Musgrove (2-1, 1.89), who is making his fourth start of the season after missing nearly two months with strained right shoulder, is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs.
Updated June 9, 2018