CSN to carry two-straight hours of live "2017 Cubs Convention" opening night coverage on Friday, January 13 beginning at 5p

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CSN to carry two-straight hours of live "2017 Cubs Convention" opening night coverage on Friday, January 13 beginning at 5p

5:00 PM on CSN & CSN+ -- Special edition of “SportsTalk Live” from Cubs Convention - hosted by David Kaplan, featuring a panel of Cubs experts, and specials guests!

5:30 PM on CSN+ & CSNChicago.com -- 90-minute LIVE Cubs Convention “Opening Ceremonies” coverage - hosted by David Kaplan, featuring CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, along with live interviews with numerous Cubs players, coaches, and front office execs!

Complete Convention coverage throughout the weekend on CSNChicago.com’s ‘CubsTalk’ section via reports from Kaplan, Crull, Mooney, and Cubs digital reporter Tony Andracki, which will include even more player/coaches/front office interviews, along with panel discussion highlights and much more!

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include the latest Convention news, live streaming segments, and special CSN prize giveaway details! 

Chicago, IL (January 10, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the 2016 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS, is ready to start up the highly-anticipated 2017 season in a big way with TWO-STRAIGHT HOURS of live Opening Night coverage from the “2017 Cubs Convention,” which is being held downtown this weekend (January 13-15) at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

On Friday, January 13 beginning at 5:00 PM CT on CSN & CSN+, the network’s live coverage of the 2017 Cubs Convention begins with a special remote edition of SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado, which will take place on the floor of the convention center.  This special edition of SportsTalk Live will feature host David Kaplan and a panel of Cubs baseball experts discussing the team’s historic 2016 World Series Championship season, all the off-season moves and acquisitions, along with the key factors needed for a championship repeat in 2017.  In addition, special guest interviews are also scheduled during the show.

Then, starting at 5:30 PM on CSN+ & CSNChicago.com, viewers can look forward to every thrill-packed moment of the convention’s Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of Cubs players/coaches/front office executives, World Series celebratory video montages, and much more.  CSN’s 2017 Cubs Convention Opening Ceremonies coverage will be hosted by Cubs Pre/Post Game Live host David Kaplan, featuring reports from CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, along with live interviews with Cubs players, coaches, and team VIPs.

NOTES: CSN+ is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for complete channel location details…In addition, the Opening Ceremonies special will also re-air on the main CSN channel location immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live” at approx. 9:00 PM).

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive Cubs Convention coverage on CSNChicago.com’s CubsTalk section (csnchicago.com/cubs) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Kaplan, Crull, Mooney, CSNChicago.com Cubs digital baseball reporter Tony Andracki, along the CSN’s team of behind-the-scenes Cubs experts. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can follow Cubs Convention updates all weekend long via Twitter from Kaplan (@thekapman), Crull (@Kelly_Crull), Mooney (@CSNMooney), and Andracki/CubsTalk (@CSNCubs). Twitter and Facebook followers will also be able to gain access to the latest Convention news, live streaming, and information on special prizes to be given away at CSN’s Cubs Convention booth.

In addition, fans are urged to follow @CSNChicago on Instagram & Snapchat for enhanced, exclusive content featuring real-time sights and sounds to experience all the exciting weekend festivities.  Plus, fans can also get interactive with CSN’s Cubs Convention coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #CubsTalk.

Fans are also urged to stop by CSN’s Cubs Convention booth throughout the weekend for autograph signings featuring scheduled appearances by CSN Cubs announcers Len Kasper & Jim Deshaies on Saturday, along with entertaining social media activities to win Cubs tickets starting Friday, plus - fans can even pick up special CSN Cubs-themed giveaways throughout the weekend (while supplies last).  CSN’s Cubs Twitter handle (@CSNCubs) will provide up-to-the-minute CSN booth activities during Cubs Convention weekend as well. The Xfinity booth onsite will feature the latest Xfinity tech, special offers and free prizes, including a custom Cubs 2016 World Series decal cover for the Xfinity X1 voice remote.

Cubs can't complete rally against Pirates in series finale

Cubs can't complete rally against Pirates in series finale

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Gift Ngoepe might not have had the weight of the world on his shoulders but he felt like a continent was counting on him.

Ngoepe, the first African to reach the major leagues, singled in his first plate appearance and Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a home run Wednesday night to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Ngoepe was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and entered the game in fourth inning as part of a double switch and finished 1 for 2 with a walk. The 27-year-old South African, who signed with the Pirates in 2008 as an amateur free agent, led off the fourth with a hit off winless Cubs ace Jon Lester.

"To accomplish this only for me but for my country and my continent is something so special," Ngoepe said. "There are 1.62 billion people on our continent. To be the first person out of 1.62 billion to do this is amazing."

It was so special that Ngoepe nearly broke into tears when he trotted from the dugout to take his positon at second base.

"I told myself not to cry because I'm in the big leagues and I'm a big guy now," Ngoepe said with a smile. "(Catcher Francisco) Cervelli hugged me and I could feel my heart beat through my chest."

A year after winning 19 games in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, Lester (0-1) is still looking for his first victory after five starts. The left-hander was tagged for six runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"It's probably the best I threw the ball all year," Lester said. "That's baseball."

Wade LeBlanc (1-0), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of rookie Tyler Glasnow, got the win.

The fifth leadoff home run of Harrison's career keyed a two-run first that included an RBI double by Cervelli. Andrew McCutchen and Phil Gosselin hit run-scoring doubles in a three-run third that pushed the Pirates' lead to 5-1.

After the Cubs got within two runs, Josh Bell gave the Pirates a 6-3 lead with a solo home run in the sixth inning off Lester. The rookie first baseman has reached base in 11 straight games.

Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer deep into the right-field stands in the eighth inning off Daniel Hudson drew the Cubs within 6-5. Tony Watson then got the last four outs for his seventh save in as many chances.

Glasnow remained winless in nine career starts, allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings and requiring 89 pitches to get 10 outs.

Rizzo had four RBIs and Kris Bryant had three hits as the Cubs lost for just second time in eight games while stranding 13 runners. The Pirates won for the third time in nine games.

Cubs bullpen finding its form after early-season struggles

Cubs bullpen finding its form after early-season struggles

It was just over a week ago when Cubs fans were freaking out about the bullpen's struggles in a weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was understandable, given Cubs relievers allowed 11 runs in the course of blowing two late leads to end that three-game sweep at the hand of the Bucs.

But since then, the Cubs bullpen has been fantastic.

In eight games entering Wednesday night's series finale with the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the Cubs bullpen is working on a stretch where they've posted a 1.56 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over the last 28.2 innings.

In that span — in which the Cubs are 6 — relievers have allowed six runs (five earned) while striking out 33 batters and surrendering just one homer.

They've been especially stingy over the last three games, allowing just five baserunners in eight shutout innings, including three straight scoreless frames to close out a 1-0 victory Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

Wade Davis has been the anchor at the back end of the bullpen the Cubs were hoping he'd be when they traded Jorge Soler for him over the winter. Davis is a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities and has not allowed a run in 9.1 innings, allowing just three hits and a pair of walks in the season's first month.

Setting up in front of Davis, Hector Rondon and Carl Edwards Jr. have combined to allow one run and three hits in 15.1 innings.

Brian Duensing — who started the year on the disabled list after a back issue sapped his spring training — is still searching for a rhythm and has surrendered six runs and 10 hits in 6.1 innings on the season. Over the last week-and-a-half, the 34-year-old southpaw has allowed more runs (three) than the rest of the Cubs bullpen combined.

Take Duensing's numbers away from that same eight-game stretch and the Cubs bullpen has been even more fantastic — 0.73 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.

Of course, it's still not even May yet, so this stellar stretch is just another small sample size. 

But just like that, the Cubs suddenly have a Top 10 bullpen, tied for the Colorado Rockies for ninth in Major League Baseball with a 3.07 relief ERA.