The Cubs looked to build on their Saturday rout of the Pirates in orderd earn a series split Sunday afternoon after a pair of disappointing losses to open the long weekend set. Perhaps an early rain delay extinguished the hot bats, as Chicago struggled to score and Pittsburgh took the series.
The Cubs jumped on starter JT Brubaker for a pair of runs in the 1st inning when rare error from Ke’Bryan Hayes and a run-scoring single from Frank Schwindel put the home team ahead 2-0. Unfortunately, Chicago starter Justin Steele did not have it on Sunday and was unable to hold the lead.
Ben Gamel singled home a run in the 2nd inning, then a sacrifice fly and a Kevin Newman double put the Pirates up 3-2 in the 3rd. A throwing error from shortstop Jonathan Villar gave the road team an additional run in the following frame.
The score held at 4-2 until the bottom of the 8th inning when Ian Happ went deep for his first home run of the season. The solo shot cut the lead to one, but two unbelievable chances to score in the late innings were squandered and the Cubs lost 4-3. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Sloppy defense, bad decisions on the base paths, and the inability to make contact with runners in scoring position combined to cost the Cubs Sunday. Those little details separate good teams from bad teams.
The Cubs had runners on the corners with no outs in the 7th inning trailing by two and were unable to score. In the 9th, they put men on second and third with one out and again failed to score. Rafael Ortega, who had doubled earlier, misread Seiya Suzuki‘s blooper and didn’t score from second base for what would’ve been the tying run.
Stats That Matter
- Steele is going to have to get a handle on his command if he’s going to be a long-term starter: 3 IP, 3 H, 4 H, 2 K, and 4 BB.
- Schwindel had a pair of hits but could not come through in the 9th with a chance to win.
- Alfonso Rivas did not start, but he was able to double and walk after coming in as a pinch-hitter.
Losing three out of four to the Pirates is an unacceptable result even if you aren’t intending to be a playoff contender. With a brutal schedule over the next two weeks, it may be getting late early for the Cubs.
Chicago gets a day off before beginning a three-game series with the defending World Series champion Braves in Atlanta on Tuesday at 6:20pm CT. Marcus Stroman does battle with Max Fried in a game airing on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.