At this point in time the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs appear to have reversed roles from where the two teams were a few weeks ago. Pittsburgh looks to be playing their best baseball with come from behind victories for much of the past week, while Chicago has finally come back down to earth after a red hot start to their season.
Jake Arrieta started for the Cubs tonight, and looked nothing like the Arrieta that Pirates fans have come to hate. His numbers weren’t bad by average pitcher standards, but for him it was well below his standard. The Buccos would hit two home runs off him in the second inning, with the first being a solo shot by David Freese, and the second one a two run shot by Sean Rodriguez.
Chicago would slowly, but surely, mount a comeback. In the fourth they got their first run of the game on a Javier Baez ground out. Miguel Montero then tied the game with a two run homer to deep right in the sixth off a pitch from Juan Nicasio, who replaced starter Francisco Liriano earlier in the inning. Liriano left after pitching five innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits to go along with three walks and three strikeouts. Not a bad outing, but it would sure be nice to see a starter go six innings to give the bullpen some rest.
The Cubs would take their only lead of the game in the seventh when Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer off of Neftali Feliz. Pittsburgh would then begin their comeback in the bottom part of the inning. It would start on a John Jaso single to center that scored Adam Frazier. A throwing error would allow Josh Bell, who made his Major League debut tonight, to score. Andrew McCutchen was swinging a hot bat tonight and drove in the sixth run of the game on a single to center. The final run crossed the plate when Eric Fryer scored on a fielder’s choice. The Pirates were able to add a run in the eighth when Matt Joyce scored on a wild pitch.
Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth inning that saw him walk one batter. A.J. Schugel came in to pitch the ninth. He recorded two outs, but was lifted after he gave up a single and a walked a batter. This would force Clint Hurdle to go to Mark Melancon to close out the game, which he did with a strikeout to earn his 27th save in the Buccos 8-4 victory.
Great win to start this series, now Pittsburgh has to focus on earning a series win by splitting the next two games, a feat they hope to accomplish tomorrow night. Gregory Polanco left the game in the seventh with what looked like a hamstring injury. It would probably be best for him to rest the remainder of the series and not return until after the All-Star break.
Record vs. Cubs: 2-8
Record vs N.L Central: 16-18
Record at Home: 23-19
Overall record: 45-42
Let’s Go Bucs!