7/7 On the road to Pittsburgh

The Cubs head to Pittsburgh to face the surging Pirates on Friday for a three-game series, the last before the All-Star break. When these two teams last met in late May, the Pirates were 24-27 and 6 1/2 games back; the Cubs were 23-28 and 7 1/2 games back. Now? The Pirates began play Thursday 45-42 and 1 1/2 games back. The Cubs are 12 games out of first and 35-53.

“They’re athletic, they’re pitching the daylights out of it, they have a premier center fielder,” Mike Quade said of the Pirates. “They’re an interesting club and they’re a handful, for sure. Talk to the rest of the division — they’re hanging in there. They’ve come a long way and we have to be on top of our game and play better than we have here to feel good about ourselves.”

John Grabow played in Pittsburgh during the lean times.

“It’s cool that they’re playing well,” Grabow said. “The city deserves that. It’s a big sports city. The fans have been waiting for a while for a winning team. We’re going to go in there and try to spoil some stuff.”

Grabow said the Pirates weren’t very popular when he pitched there.

“The Steelers, the Penguins, even college basketball is huge there,” he said. “When I was there, we were last in line. It was frustrating because you go to a Steelers game and it’s crazy, you go to Penguins game and it’s fun. We’d go through little stretches where we played well and then we didn’t play well. It seemed like the only time we sold out was when there were fireworks or a giveaway. The fans supported the team but they weren’t selling out. It’s a shame because it’s such a beautiful stadium and fun to play at. It’ll be fun to go there and see how many fans they get.”

— Carrie Muskat

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