Jake Arrieta and the Cubs celebrated Jackie Robinson Day against the Pirates at a breezy Wrigley Field. The wind was blowing straight out at 20 miles an hour, and, as is often the case on days like Saturday, the offenses had their way.
Chicago wasted no time jumping on prized prospect Tyler Glasnow right out of the gate. Kyle Schwarber led off the 1st with a sliced double down the 3rd base line. Kris Bryant then made a dent in the scoreboard with a massive homer to left field.
Ben Zobrist then reached on an error by shortstop Adam Frazier and Addison Russell made that error hurt by tripling past right fielder Andrew McCutchen. Jason Heyward completed the cycle singling home Russell to make it 4-0 Cubs.
No lead is ever safe when the wind blows out like it did Saturday, though. Catcher Francisco Cervelli took Arrieta deep on a glorified pop-up in the 2nd inning to cut the Cubs advantage to 4-1. Frazier tripled past a diving Schwarber and scored on a Starling Marte single in the 3rd.
The Northsiders wasted no time in responding to the Pirates’ runs. Anthony Rizzo doubled to lead off the bottom of the 3rd and Zobrist reached on a dropped third strike. Russell again made the Bucs pay for a mistake, doubling home both runners and increasing the lead to 6-2.
Arrieta battled into the 6th inning, where he allowed a solo shot to Marte. Joe Maddon removed him with two down in the inning. Brian Duensing got the last out of the 6th and continued to the 7th, when he too fell victim to the wind. The lefty allowed a home run to Josh Harrison before Frazier singled in another run to cut the Chicago lead to 6-5.
Pedro Strop came on to try to escape the 7th inning, but, after a walk to Marte, the slumping Andrew McCutchen came to the plate. Cutch returned to his old form for one at bat, blasting a three-run homer to left. Just like that, the Pirates were up 8-6.
Bryant rode the jet stream for a longball against closer Tony Watson to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 8-7, but Russell came up as the winning run but struck out to end the game.
Stats That Matter
- Addison Russell had a big game: 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and 3 runs batted in. He is driving the ball with authority, a trend which will hopefully continue.
- Jake Arrieta was not as good as his first two outings: 5.2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 5 K, and 1 BB. Still, with conditions as they were, that put the Cubs in a good position to win.
- Kris Bryant is going to be just fine. His first two home runs of the season should be the harbinger of many more in 2017.
- The Cubs bullpen was not able to secure the victory. Strop and Duensing combined to allow 5 runs on 4 hits in 1.1 innings. Late leads blown by the bullpen always seem to be the most painful, Saturday was no exception.
The Cubs lost consecutive games for the first time in 2017. It seems impressive before you remember it didn’t happen last year until the 33rd game last season. With the Cardinals’ early stumbles and less than stellar defense, it’s entirely likely that the Pirates will be the the main divisional competition for Chicago this season. Losses like Saturday’s won’t be helpful.
Jon Lester looks to avoid the sweep against top prospect Jameson Taillon Sunday afternoon. The Easter matinee kicks off at 1:20 on WGN and 670 the Score.