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There's a lot to be said about being the measuring stick for an entire administration. On most occasions, a new team president or manager will be judged by the first big move or the first big acquisition. For Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs, the measuring stick will be the headline acquisitions of Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
Both of them are hot prospects, with Soler being 20 years old and Almora being only 18 years old. One came in via the No. 6 overall pick in the June MLB draft, while the other came from Cuba last year and immediately signed a nine-year contract with the Cubs. Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Patrick Mooney wrote about the two and how they're linked together.
His piece talks about how the two are developing, and how they both show a lot of promise for the Cubs, from their desire to be making plays (Almora smashing into a wall to make a play on Saturday, etc.). The clear hope from the Cubs organization is that these two will be making plays together on the field in the near future, and there's a solid chance that will happen. Be sure to check out the piece for some more background on the two of them.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning without a hit in the game, but proceeded to smash his 28th home run of the season with a two-run shot to deep center field. Soriano wrapped up the series with three homers in three games, and has now blasted five in the month of September.
Despite registering a blown save in the seventh inning, Cubs reliever James Russell earned the victory to reach 7-1 on the year after Soriano's big hit bailed him out. Hopeful to turn this winning streak into a multi-series venture, Chicago will turn to Chris Volstad on Monday to kick off a three-game set with Houston.
Chicago has been dreadful on the road in 2012, going 19-52, and Sunday could mark their first road sweep of the season. Chris Rusin (0-2, 9.00) takes the mound for the Cubs in his third Major League start. Rusin pitched well in his Aug. 21 debut allowing only one run on one hit in five innings, but was shelled in his follow-up start Sept. 4 against the Washington Nationals when he allowed five runs in only one inning.
Jeff Locke (0-1, 4.82) starts for Pittsburgh. Locke, a left-hander, has spent most of his career in the minors but was recalled by the Pirates in August. He pitched two scoreless relief appearances and in one start, he allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings in a loss to the Houston Astros.
Alfonso Soriano continued his impressive 2012 campaign Saturday with his 27th home run of the year. He is batting .260 with 92 RBI.
Jeff Samardjzia went the distance for the Chicago Cubs as they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Saturday night. The former Notre Dame football standout struck out nine, allowing only four hits and walking a single batter as he went the distance in this one.
A Pedro Alvarez two-run double put the Pirates out in front in the first inning, but Samardjzia would settle down after that. The Cubs would get themselves on the board in the second with an Alfonso Soriano solo homerun. Tony Campana would then even the score in the third when he scored as Luis Valbuena grounded into a double play.
The Cubs would go ahead in the fifth as Campana scored for the second time. This time he doubled, stole third, and then scored on a Luis Valbuena sacrifice fly. Jeff Clement would level the score for the Pirates in the bottom of the seventh, but the Cubs would quickly regain the lead in the eighth as David DeJesus singled in Wellington Castillo.
The Chicago Cubs are in an opportunistic position to stave off a possible 100-loss season.
Opportunistic in the sense Saturday's opponent, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are slumping. The Pirates have lost 18 of their last 27 games after being poised to make the post-season for the first time since 1992.
The Cubs put a 12-2 drubbing on the Pirates in the first of their three game set in Pittsburgh Friday. The Pirates committed seven errors in the loss, just one day after finishing off Houston for the Buccos' second consecutive win.
Chicago will start Jeff Samardzija for the final time this season, having announced he won't pitch again after today's start. He's 8-13 this season with a 3.91 ERA and also owns the lowest run support among starters in MLB, getting 3.15 runs per game.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Chicago Cubs CF Brett Jackson told reporters after Friday night's game that he would "go through a wall" for the team. A few hours earlier, he had just about tried. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jackson launched himself into the outfield wall at PNC Park while robbing Pittsburgh Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen of extra bases. It was a stunning catch, but Jackson was very slow to get up.
After the game, though, Jackson revealed what is believed to be the extent of his injury: a bruised, swollen right knee. Jackson underwent X-rays after the game, which he says came back negative. It's unclear if he'll miss any time -- though it would be a surprise if he didn't -- but the result certainly could have been much worse.
The Pirates and Cubs will continue their series on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. CT.
The Chicago Cubs haven't won many easy games in 2012, but they skated to a nice 12-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. The Pirates, though, weren't innocent bystandards -- they committed seven errors in the loss. Of Chicago's 12 runs, only six were charged to Pittsburgh pitchers.
It wasn't all good news for Chicago, unfortunately. Top prospect Brett Jackson injured himself after smashing into the wall while making a spectacular catch to rob Andrew McCutchen of extra bases. The Cubs have yet to elaborate on the severity of Jackson's injury or what is even injured, but the team's trainers were working on his right knee before he left the field.
Cubs CF Brett Jackson injured himself on Friday night after sprawling into the fence at PNC Park.