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Game Thread: Pirates looking to conclude 4 game sweep of Cubs on the 4th of July

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Dave DiCello/Twitter

Let the fireworks begin!

After Wednesday night’s dramatic walk-off win over the Cubs at PNC Park, the Pirates stand poised to complete the sweep at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, July 4. The Cubs wills end veteran left-hander Jose Quintana (5-7, 4.21) to the mound, opposed by the Pirates’ Jordan Lyles (5-4, 3.71)

Quintana spent the first five and a half years of his career on the South Side of Chicago with the White Sox before coming to the Cubs in a 2017 deadline deal. Owner of a 3.51 ERA in the American League, Quintana has a 4.01 mark in 62 starts for the Cubs. He has a 91.3 mph fastball mixed mostly with a curve.

He’s faced the Pirates once this year, on April 11 in Chicago, when he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just four walk and one walk while fanning eleven. In Quintana’s last start he shut out the Reds for six innings, but he’d allowed nine runs in four and a third the stat before that against the Mets. Over his last seven Quintana has a 5.65 ERA, averaging just 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

For the year Quintana has typical splits, with a 767 OPS by right-handed batters on a 268/325/442 line while 700 vs lefties (280/313/387). Against the left-handed batters he’s allowed a higher BABIP (338 to 303) but a much lower ISO (107 to 174) while allowing just one homerun.

Lyles returned to action on June 29 in Milwaukee after missing three starts with left hamstring tightness. He allowed three runs in six innings in the loss to the Brewers, which would have been much better if Lyles wouldn’t have had to pitch to Eric Thames.

Thames was a symptom of Lyles’ very pronounced left/right splits, as the lefty batters have lit him up to a 898 OPS this year on a 284/366/532 line that includes six of the eight homers that Lyles has allowed this year. In contrast, he’s been very tough against right-handers, holding them to a combined 190/251/294 line.

Despite Lyles’ splits, the Cubs will field a lineup with only three of eight position players swinging from the left side, including switch-hitting rookie 2B Robel Garcia, playing his second major league game. Garcia was a light hitter in 2010 to 2013, only topping a 700 OPS in the low minors once, but after being off the radar for five years, primarily playing in Italy, he reemerged at age 26 this year, putting up 21 home runs and a 285/364/594 line in 72 games split between Double-A and Triple-A.

Quintana will face no left-handed batters in the Pirates’ starting nine, as Colin Moran, Adam Frazier and Corey Dickerson take a seat for Jose Osuna at 3B, Jung-ho Kang at SS and Melky Cabrera in RF.

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CUBS

1 L Kyle Schwarber LF

2 R Javy Baez SS

3 R Kris Bryant RF

4 L Anthony Rizzo 1B

5 R Willson Contreras C

6 S Robel Garcia 2B

7 R David Bote 3B

8 R Albert Almora CF

9 R Jose Quintana LHP

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PIRATES

1 R Kevin Newman 2B

2 S Bryan Reynolds LF

3 R Starling Marte CF

4 S Josh Bell 1B

5 S Melky Cabrera RF

6 R Jose Osuna 3B

7 R Jung-ho Kang SS

8 R Elias Diaz C

9 R Jordan Lyles RHP