Gaby led off the second by wisely swinging at ball four and banging a bullet off the wall for a two-bagger. Brent Morel even laid some heavy wood down, flying out to the center field wall and moving Gaby to third. Cole went down looking, though he hung around for eight pitches. Starling picked him up, rolling a single into left to plate Gaby. Jordy got a 1-2 cutter at the knees than ran back over the plate, and he deposited it into the seats to make it 5-0. What the heck; Cutch got a meatball and he joined the homer parade, too.
Walker followed with a single, then Russ did the same, and ditto for JT, who chased home The Kid. In justice, the last three hits were of the ground ball variety, but enough to stick a fork into Wood, who was already at 58 pitches. Eric Jokisch took the hill to make his MLB debut while Cole went to the pen to soft toss some to stay loose. The Joker got Gaby on a liner to right to close the frame with the Bucs up 7-0. It was another rocking chair inning for Cole, who needed 11 pitches to sit the Cubs down.
Jokisch retired the first two Bucs in the third before Starling worked him for ten pitches and an eventual double to right, but he got Jordy to ground out. The Pirates have 10 hits so far; nine are with two outs. Mike Olt opened with a single up the middle for Chicago, and was bunted to second with two gone, where he remained.
The Kid collected his third hit of the day in the fourth, a one-out single up the middle. An out later, JT singled to left, and Gaby followed with an RBI knock, with both runners moving up on the throw home. Morel ended the party at 8-0 with a fly to short right. Chris Coghlan singled for the Cubs with one away. Luis Valbuena rolled a curve into right, but Coghlan was picked off by JT's throw behind him after he tripped over the bag on his way to third, and a K ended the inning.
Jokisch, a soft-tossing minor league starter, is giving the Cubs pen what it need after absorbing 14 frames yesterday, and threw another 1-2-3 frame in the fifth. Ryan Kalish drilled a heater to lead off with a triple to center and Olt's roller through the left side brought him in before Cole calmed the Cubbie bats.
Cutch started the sixth with a knock, and Russ followed an out later. JT spoiled the fun with a 6-4-3 DP. Coghlan rolled a single to right with one gone and came in an out later when Welington Castillo yanked a two strike change up into left for a double, scoring Coghlan after Marte had problems handling the ball (he was later charged with an error). A fly closed out the inning.
Blake Parker toed the rubber in the seventh and Gaby welcomed him with a double into the LF corner. He was frozen there on a 6-3 by Morel, but trotted home ahead of Cole, who bombed a first pitch fastball into the stands. Chi-town fans may end up with bursitis from tossing all those balls back. Jordy blooped a two-out single before Parker collected the third out.
Good thing they let him bat. Olt led off by dropping a single into right, followed by a hit batter, wild pitch and two-run single, bringing on Jeanmar Gomez, who has pitched just twice since August 18th with his last outing on September 1st. After a groundout and walk, Clint went to the pen again for LOOGY Bobby LaFromboise, a AAA call-up, with a pair of lefties due up. After a fly out, a wild pitch moved the Cub runners to second and third, but Valbuena K'ed to end the rally.
Parker worked a quick and quiet eighth. John Axford came in for the Pirates and struck out a pair while walking one in a scoreless and somewhat trademark inning. Kyuji Fujikawa took the ball in the ninth. Morel singled with an out, becoming the last Bucco starter to collect a knock (although he did hit three balls on the nose today). He was stranded and Big John Holdzkom came in to finish. He gave up a walk and single, but a K and 6-4-3 DP cleaned that mess up.
The only downer to today was that Gerrit Cole, staked to a huge early lead, still couldn't navigate his way through the middle innings. Other wise, it's all roses. While the Bucs are still 4-1/2 games behind the Cards in the NL Central, they passed the Brewers and Braves and now hold the second wild card spot by a slim 1/2 game margin. Certainly not a lock, but it sure beats slowly swirling down the drain, which was what they doing just four days ago.
Jeff Locke opens a four game set against the Phils and Kyle Kendrick tomorrow night.
- This was the first Bucco sweep of Chicago at Wrigley Field since 2000.
- Neil Walker tied Bill Mazeroski’s 1958 club record for most homers by a Pirate second baseman with 19. Jordy & Cutch's homers marked the eighth time Pittsburgh batters went back-to-back with long balls in 2014. And Gerrit Cole's HR was his first MLB bomb and the first by a Bucco pitcher since Ross Ohlendorf hot one in 2011.
- The 19 hits by the Bucs is the most since collecting 19 on 6/29/12 at St. Louis. Cutch, The Kid & Gaby had three knocks; Starling, Jordy, Russ & JT had a pair. Every Pirate starter, including pitcher Cole, had a hit. The Pirates had seven hits in an inning for the second time in three years at Wrigley, having turned the trick in August of 2012.
- Bucco pitching shut out the Cubs for 19 innings until Chicago scored in the fifth.
- Pedro may be more seriously injured than the Pirates let on (there's a surprise). Rob Biertempfel of the Trib tweeted that El Toro won't make the trip to Philly with the team, but take a side jaunt to see a foot specialist. He was later told that it was one of several possibility as the Bucs are still evaluating his condition.
- Ryan Gaule of Bleacher Report speculates on the Pirates 2015 starting rotation; he loses one FA and picks up another.
- Michael Martinez and Chris McGuiness were outrighted to Indy after clearing waivers.
- Nothing to do with anything local, but Zach Links has an interesting tale in MLB Trade Rumors of minor leaguers playing multiple agents off one another.