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NL Wild Card GameThread: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Chicago Cubs return to the postseason for the first time since 2008 in tonight's National League Wild Card game with the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park. Jake Arrieta vs Gerrit Cole. Game Time: 8:00 PM; TV: TBS; RADIO: ESPN Radio.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs are in PNC Park tonight to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2015 NL Wild Card Game which will determine which team moves on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

On the mound for the Cubs is NL Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta who takes on Pirates' right-hander Gerrit Cole.

Arrieta finished the season (22-6) with a 1.77 ERA, a 2.35 FIP, 48 walks (1.89 BB/9) and 236 Ks (9.28 K/9) in 229 IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a .184/.236/.271 line.

Cole was (19-8) in his third major league campaign with a 2.60 ERA, a 2.66 FIP, 44 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 202 Ks (8.74 K/9), holding opposing hitters to a .235/.287/.336 line in 208 innings.

Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon was asked yesterday what was different for Arrieta this season as opposed to earlier in his career when the manager and pitcher were rivals in the AL East.

"The main difference for me is his fastball command," Maddon told reporters. "He knows where his fastball is going.

"He always had exceptional velocity and really good other pitches, but, if you just battle him enough, you'll probably get his pitch count up by the fourth or fifth inning back when he was with Baltimore.

"Now you just can't do that. He's a strike thrower. I think the true definition of a really good Major League starting pitcher is the fact he can throw a strike with his fastball when he wants to, and he's arrived at that point."

Bucs' manager Clint Hurdle was asked if he thought Cole, the top overall selection of the 2011 Draft, might be motivated to take on one of the NL's best pitchers this season who's getting a lot of attention after putting together a Cy Young-worthy campaign.

"Probably not," Hurdle said. "I don't think he cares about what other people think at all, truthfully. Hopefully he got that from me.

"The external noise that can come with this game sometimes, that's really not necessary. He needs to believe in what he needs to believe in, in execution and getting the Cubs out.

"At the end of the day, he's already matched up against some really good pitchers. This isn't the first time he's matched up against a really good pitcher. He's done it a number of times.

"It's not like he's pitching against Arrieta. He's pitching against the Cubs' lineup.

"I think that's one thing he's really grown into over the years that young pitchers can get caught up in. His first two starts were against Cy Young Award winners. I think the first three or something crazy like that.

"So that part of it, I think he's kind of way past that type of deal on who is getting street cred or who is getting media coverage or who is getting all that. I think he's just looking forward to getting the ball."

Cole will get the ball just after 8:00 PM in PNC Park...

Today's Lineups:

CHICAGO CUBS PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Dexter Fowler - CF Gregory Polanco - RF
Kyle Schwarber - RF Josh Harrison - 3B
Kris Bryant - LF Andrew McCutchen - CF
Anthony Rizzo - 1B Starling Marte - LF
Tommy La Stella - 3B Francisco Cervelli - C
Starlin Castro - 2B Neil Walker - 2B
Miguel Montero - C Jordy Mercer - SS
Addison Russell - SS Sean Rodriguez - 1B
Jake Arrieta - RHP Gerrit Cole - RHP

Cole vs the Cubs:

Cubs PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Anthony Rizzo 20 17 6 1 1 2 3 .353 .450 .412 .862 1
Starlin Castro 19 17 6 4 1 4 .353 .368 .353 .721 1
Chris Coghlan 17 13 2 1 2 5 .154 .294 .154 .448 1 1
Dexter Fowler 15 14 3 1 4 .214 .267 .214 .481 1
Kris Bryant 11 9 3 2 6 .333 .455 .333 .788
Chris Denorfia 7 6 3 1 1 .500 .571 .667 1.238
Addison Russell 7 7 2 1 2 .286 .286 .286 .571
Jorge Soler 7 7 2 2 .286 .286 .286 .571 1
Javier Baez 6 6 1 1 1 3 .167 .167 .667 .833
Tommy La Stella 6 6 1 1 1 .167 .167 .333 .500
Kyle Schwarber 6 5 1 1 1 .200 .333 .200 .533
Miguel Montero 5 5 3 1 1 .600 .600 .600 1.200
David Ross 5 5 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jon Lester 4 4 4 .000 .000 .000 .000
Dan Haren 2 2 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jonathan Herrera 2 2 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Tsuyoshi Wada 2 2 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Travis Wood 2 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500 1
Trevor Cahill 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jason Hammel 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Kyle Hendricks 1 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Matt Szczur 1 1 1 2 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Total 147 132 34 3 1 12 10 44 .258 .320 .303 .623 2 3 2

Arrieta vs the Pirates:

Pirates PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Andrew McCutchen 27 23 8 2 1 3 7 .348 .444 .435 .879 1
Neil Walker 26 25 4 1 1 1 6 .160 .192 .200 .392 1
Aramis Ramirez 21 19 2 1 2 .105 .190 .105 .296 1 3
Pedro Alvarez 19 17 2 1 1 2 4 .118 .211 .294 .505 1
Starling Marte 18 17 4 4 .235 .278 .235 .513 1
Gregory Polanco 16 16 3 1 5 .188 .188 .188 .375
Francisco Cervelli 13 13 2 1 5 .154 .154 .154 .308 1
Josh Harrison 10 10 1 1 2 .100 .100 .200 .300
Mike Morse 9 9 2 1 1 2 .222 .222 .333 .556
A.J. Burnett 7 7 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Travis Snider 5 5 1 2 .200 .200 .200 .400
Jordy Mercer 4 4 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Francisco Liriano 2 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jaff Decker 1 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
J.A. Happ 1 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Travis Ishikawa 1 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Charlie Morton 1 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 181 171 29 5 1 6 7 45 .170 .215 .216 .432 3 6