The Cubs need to start beating up on bad teams if they want to win the division.  So far this year, they’re only 4-5 against the Pirates, which, to be honest, is really not acceptable.  This weekend they’ll be playing the Bucs for three games in Pittsburgh, and they really need to win two of them.  Can they?

Tonight pits Tom Gorzelanny against Rich Hill.  Both pitchers have put up very good numbers in the past against their opponents, so it figures to be a pitchers’ duel.  The Cubs’ success will probably ride on not making any mistakes and not blowing a lead if they get one.   Tomorrow night’s game is Zambrano against Snell.  The Cubs have actually hit Snell pretty well–Soriano owns him–and he’s 0-1 against them this year with a 4.50 ERA in two starts.  Zambrano has kept the Pirates at bay, so to speak, with two great exceptions: Jason Bay and Xavier Nady.  Both kill Z, and he’ll have to limit the damage they do if he wants to beat Snell.  This year, Z is 0-2 against the Pirates in two starts, so color me a little worried.  The final game of the series pits Steve Trachsel against Matt Morris.  The Cubs hitters have really lit up Morris over the years, and the team has already beat him once this year, when he was with the Giants.  As for Trachsel, he’s been surprisingly effective against most of the Pirates.  He beat them last year as a member of the Mets, but hasn’t faced them this year.

Before the Brewers series, I wrote that I thought Z’s start was the key to winning the series.  I was wrong: the Cubs lost Z’s start and still won the series thanks to some timely hitting.  This time, I think the Cubs will win the last game against Morris, but these other two games hang in the balance.  Tonight is a 50/50 proposition–there’s a lot of luck involved, I think.  If “good Z” shows up again, then I think the Cubs easily take the last two, and maybe sweep the series.  My best guess is that the Cubs take two of three.

The good news is that the Brewers are on the road in Cincinnati and have to face Harang and Arroyo and the Cards are in Arizona and have to face Webb.  This weekend is a great opportunity for the Cubs to pick up a game on both teams.