It was the kind of game Rob Manfred hates: one that lasted longer than 3 hours. Many batters went into deep counts, fouling off pitch after pitch. Unfortunately, it was also the kind of game that I hate: a Cubs loss. The offense produced very little and the pitchers pitched just deficiently enough for the Pirates to squeak by with a victory and match their Wrigley win total from last year.
The Pirates made Kyle Hendricks work today. Through 3 innings he was already at 56 pitches, a result of having difficulty hitting the strike zone consistently. He pitched better in the next couple innings but ran into a bit of trouble in the 6th. Andrew McCutchen led the inning off with a looping single that was just out of the reach of Addison Russell. Gregory Polanco followed with a sharp single to right that deflected off of Anthony Rizzo’s glove.
Joe Maddon came out and yanked Hendricks immediately after that, opting to bring in Justin Grimm. Both Polanco and McCutchen scored on hits by David Freese and Francisco Cervelli, the latter of which also plated Freese, to increase the Pirates lead to 4-2.
While the Pirates were making Hendricks work, the Cubs were doing the same to Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole. While they were able to score only 2 runs against him, the Cubs forced Cole to throw 114 pitches over 6 innings. The home team tried to rally in the 8th and 9th innings, loading the bases in both frames, but could not find a hole for the ball to drop.
Brian Duensing made his Cubs debut in the 7th and pitched well, working a scoreless inning and recording a strikeout while allowing no baserunners.
Anthony Rizzo was able to get on base three times today, two of which were because the pitcher plunked him. Both times he got hit took place in the late innings when the Cubs tried to engineer rallies.
It was good to see Hector Rondon pitching today after that vicious Chase Utley slide at the plate hit him in his leg. He pitched a solid 8th inning, striking out Gregory Polanco and giving up a double to David Freese. His stuff looked crisp, so the leg must not be bothering him much.
Stats That Matter
- The Cubs had ample opportunities to score late, but could not come through. Overall, they went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
The Bottom Line
Right now, the Cubs sit one game behind Cincinnati in the NL Central. It’s early, so that lead should evaporate quickly with the Cubs taking their rightful place at the top of the division.
Jake Arrieta takes the bump as he and the Cubs face Tyler Glasnow and the rest of the Pirates at 1:20 CT tomorrow. The game will be on CSN Chicago and 670 The Score.