The Pirates’ 3-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field featured 2 blowout games and a third game that featured blown opportunities, all resulting in a 2-1 series loss for the Buccos.
Monday, August 30: The first game of the series couldn’t have possibly gone any worse for the Pirates. Cubs’ starter Carlos Zambrano not only through 5.1 innings of 1 run ball against the Buccos, but he also blasted a 2-run homer in the 5th inning, helping Chicago cruise to a 14-2 annihilation of the Pirates in the first game at Wrigley.
The Cubs put the game away in the 4th and 5th innings, scoring 11 runs in the two frames combined, and the Pirates’ struggling bats couldn’t manage any more than 2 runs on 6 hits. Garrett Jones was the only Pirate to tally 2 hits, while starter Paul Maholm got torched, lasting only 3.1 innings and giving up 8 runs on 9 hits. Ouch.
Tuesday, August 31: Talk about revenge. One night after being held to only 2 runs, the Pirates’ offense exploded in game 2 of the series against the Cubs, scoring 14 runs on 15 hits, getting a little payback and padding that individual statistics, beating the hometown team 14-7.
Neil Walker was the star of the day for the Bucs, going 4-5 with a homerun and 4 RBI, while improving his season average to .305. Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata slated 3 hits a piece, and Garrett Jones added a 2-run homer in the 4th inning.
Jeff Karstens picked up the victory on Tuesday after giving up only 2 runs on 4 hits through 6 innings. Reliever Sean Gallagher got rocked, however, for 5 runs in only 1.2 innings. Luckily for Pittsburgh, the lead was substantial enough to withstand the minor comeback by the Cubs’ 5 runs in the 8th inning. Karstens’ mound opponent, Ryan Dempster, who came into the game as one of the hottest pitchers of the second half of the season, lasted only 3 innings, giving up 7 runs on 7 hits and walking 3 batters.
Wednesday, September 1: The Pirates began September with a terribly frustrating game against the Cubs. The close-knit game was decided by 2 runs, but the Pirates left a total of 12 men on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the 8th inning.
James McDonald had a decent outing, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits through 5 innings. While it wasn’t a standout performance, it was good enough to give the Pirates a chance to win. Unfortunately, the bats wouldn’t come through.
Neil Walker was once again the star, going 3-5 with 1 HR, bumping up his average to .310. Ronny Cedeno had 2 hits, but Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, and Pedro Alvarez all went hitless, and were responsible for a total of 8 runners on base. That was the difference in the ballgame. The Cubs took the game, 5-3, and the series, 2-1, from the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
So the Pirates round out the road trip at a dismal 1-5. They have dropped to an absolutely depressing 45 games under the .500 mark, and are pulling away from the Baltimore Orioles for the title of MLB’s worst record. They return home for a 6 game home stand against the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves. We now have a month left in what is going down as one of the worst Pirates’ seasons in history, record-wise. With only 2 homestands left in the 2010 season, perhaps the Buccos can improve upon their record at PNC Park, which is the only part of the this season that hasn’t been a huge disappointment.
Current Record: 44-89
And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!