As the 2023 regular season winds down over the next couple weeks, the Pittsburgh Pirates have an opportunity to play spoiler as several of their opponents are vying for those final playoff spots in the National League.
On Tuesday night, the Bucs opened a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were ready to play, and the Pirates simply were not. The result was a 14-1 beatdown, leaving Pittsburgh with a 70-81 record and the Cubs occupying the final Wild Card spot.
This was as a lopsided of a loss as one could imagine, with the Cubs using an eight-run eighth inning to make it embarrassing. Quinn Priester’s struggles at the Major League level continued, giving up four runs on five hits and two walks in six innings. Recently recalled Kyle Nicolas was torched on the mound, giving up six runs on three hits and two walks while only recording an out.
On the other side, Chicago got a solid performance from their starter, as Javier Assad won his fourth game of the season while giving up one run on five hits in five innings.
Offensively, it seemed as though just about everyone on the Cubs’ roster got into the act. Alexander Canario hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, and Cody Bellinger followed later with his 26th long ball of the year, a three-run shot to add to the damage.
Pittsburgh’s lone run of the game came in the third inning, when Ke’Bryan Hayes hit his 14th homerun of the season, a solo shot to right center field. At the time, it cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-1….but things would just get worse from there.
This was obviously a horrible loss for the Bucs and a horrendous way to kick off this road trip. The Cubs have had the Pirates’ number all year, and that trend continued on Tuesday. Pittsburgh will look to right the ship when they take the field on Wednesday for the second game of this series at Wrigley Field. Mitch Keller will be on the mound for the Pirates against Justin Steele for Chicago, who will be looking for his 17th win of the season.
Record vs. Cubs: 1-10
Record vs. N.L. Central: 21-26
Record on the Road: 32-41
Overall Record: 70-81
Let’s Go Bucs!