PITTSBURGH — A week ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates cruised into Chicago and swept the Cubs in a three-game series. Now, the Cubs will get a chance for some comeuppance as they visit Pittsburgh for a three-game series.
The series will have a bit of a different feel, and not just because of the change in location. Chad Kuhl will start for the Pirates against Chicago lefty Brett Anderson in the series opener Monday. Neither of those pitchers appeared in the first series between the two teams this season.
Kuhl (1-1, 2.60 ERA) is in his second major league season, and he will be making his 18th career start. But he already knows all about the Cubs, a team he faced three times in 2016. He was 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA in those games, and 12 of the 40 career runs he has allowed have come against the Cubs.
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Even so, Kuhl and the rest of the Pirates’ young starters are full of confidence this season. Kuhl held the St. Louis Cardinals to two runs in six innings in his last outing, and he hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of his starts this season.
The rest of the Pirates’ young staff is pitching well, too. The last time through the rotation, Pittsburgh’s starters gave up 10 earned runs in 29 innings for a 3.10 ERA. Kuhl said the strong starts are becoming contagious.
“It’s awesome,” Kuhl said. “It’s just fun to see. … I think we have a really good group, especially with (Ivan) Nova and Gerrit (Cole) being the veterans of the staff. It’s a good group that wants to get better.”
While Kuhl has had a rough go against the Cubs in his short career, the opposite is true for Anderson (1-0, 4.40 ERA). The 29-year-old lefty came to the Cubs this offseason from the Los Angeles Dodgers and spent most of the early part of his career with the Oakland A’s in the American League, so his experience against the Pirates is limited.
Anderson has a 1-1 career record with a 3.77 ERA in three starts against the Pirates, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He dominated the Pirates in 2014, holding them to one run over 13 1/3 innings in two starts. But in his first appearance since returning from back surgery last August, the Pirates jumped on him for five runs in one inning.
He has been having a rough go of it lately, as well. After cruising through his first two starts, Anderson allowed six runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings against Milwaukee on April 18. After that game, catcher Miguel Montero took the blame for Anderson’s poor results.
“I didn’t call a good game for him,” Montero said to the Chicago Tribune. “I told him I was sorry because he had good stuff going, and the results were different. I apologized to him because I didn’t do my job.”
The Cubs arrive in Pittsburgh after a 7-5 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday, a result that snapped Chicago’s four-game winning streak. The Pirates beat the New York Yankees 4-1 on Sunday, giving Pittsburgh two wins in the three-game series.