Yes it is only July, but the Chicago Cubs are pretty much already in the position to play spoiler. Blame it on injuries or poor play, but this team is already playing for the future. A victory Sunday would give the Cubs a series win over the surprising Pirates and would lead them in to the all-star break on a positive note. Things haven't been very positive for the Cubs over the first half as they enter Sunday's game with the second-worst record in all of baseball.
Ramon Ortiz will make his second start for the Cubs on Sunday. Ortiz lost his first start Tuesday to the Washington Nationals. After a shaky first inning in which he allowed three runs, two earned, the veteran righty settled down to go six innings and allowed just the two earned runs on seven hits. Sunday will be the first start Ortiz will make against the Pirates since 2006.
The Pirates will counter with Paul Maholm. Maholm is having a much better season than his record indicates. Although the Pirates lefty is only 5-8 on the season, his ERA is just 3.08. In his career, Maholm is 8-2 against the Cubs with an ERA of 5.30 in 15 appearances.
The forecast in Pittsburgh at the time of first pitch is temps in the upper 80's under sunny skies. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 CST. The game can be seen on WGN.