The Pittsburgh Pirates were reeling as they entered this weekend’s series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Having just been swept by the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park, the Bucs entered the home of the defending World Series champions not playing their best baseball and facing a star-studded starting pitching rotation.
But today ended the same way the previous two games did against the Cubs – with a Pirates victory. Today, it was Jameson Taillon pitching another incredible game, and the offense surged late as the Bucs beat the Cubs 6-1 to clinch the weekend series sweep.
Taillon turned in another solid start, giving up one run (unearned) on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. He has pitched three solid games so far this season, but he earned his first victory of the year, going toe to toe with Cubs ace Jon Lester.
The Pirates battled back to take the lead and then some in the top of the eighth inning. John Jaso led off with a walk, then Adam Frazier doubled and Josh Bell walked to load the bases with no outs. Jordy Mercer hit a bloop single to center to score Jaso and tie the game. Later in the inning, Andrew McCutchen hit a ground ball to Anthony Rizzo with the bases loaded. Rizzo bare handed the ball and threw it home, but the catcher’s foot came off the plate and the Bucs scored to take the lead. Later in the inning, David Freese hit a fly ball to right field, but the catcher dropped the relay through in from Jason Heyward, allowing Mercer to score from the third. The Pirates led 3-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
After a 1-2-3 eighth for Felipe Rivero in the bottom of the eighth, the Pirates added more insurance runs in the ninth on a three run homerun by Frazier, scoring Josh Harrison and Jaso, making it a 6-1 advantage. Wade Leblanc set the Cubs down in the ninth to secure the win.
This was a huge, and unexpected, weekend for the Pirates. Entering the weekend, the Pirates were not playing their best baseball and were facing a stretch of starting pitchers that included Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester. They were able to come away with three victories to get off to a great start to the season against the Cubs. As we’ve been saying, if the Bucs are going to compete for the division, they need to beat this team. So far, so good.
The Pirates now continue their road trip as they head to Busch Stadium to take on the St. Louis Cardinals for a three game series, beginning tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Ivan Nova will take the mound for Pittsburgh against Lance Lynn for St. Louis.
Record vs. Cubs: 3-0
Record vs. N.L. Central: 3-3
Record on the Road: 3-3
Overall Record: 6-6
Let’s Go Bucs!