Chicago put it away in the fifth, when they scored six times off Charlie and Joe before making an out, with a homer, two doubles, three singles, an error and passed ball before Bobby LaFramboise could quell the inferno - and the Pirates even won a challenge to get an out call at home, plus turned a DP. So now the wild card looks a lot more likely; Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta are set up for that eventuality, and hopefully the Bucs bounce back to keep the play-in game at PNC Park with a tough series coming up in LA against Kershaw and Greinke.
They do have a three game set left with the Cubs at Wrigley, but even if they sweep, they can't earn the tiebreaker of a series edge, as Pittsburgh is down 10 games to six.
As for JHK, he was victim of a purposeful take-out slide by Chris Coghlan, not allowing Jung-Ho time to get off his plant leg. Hardball legal, yes, and expected in a series as big as this. The results were brutal to Kang - he's undergoing surgery tonight for a torn MCL and fractured tibia, and done for the year - and maybe longer. (EDIT - the Pirates announced that JHK is expected to miss 6-8 months, so the start of 2016 is very iffy as a return date).
|JHK's takeout (photo: via Baseball Photos)|
Both the Bucs (perhaps more for public consumption) and Cubs accepted the slide as business as usual; even JHK, who through his agent said “It is unfortunate that what would be considered heads up baseball would cause such a serious injury. That said, Coghlan was playing the game the way it should be played. I'm confident he meant me no harm." Cutch tweeted "Send our teammate Jung Ho Kang prayers. Heal up Chingu (friend). We got u. Best believe that."
So a blow on a pair of fronts today. The loss puts the Pirates 4-1/2 games behind the Cards (they play the Brewers tonight) and cut the lead against the Cubs for home field to two games. And it looks like Jordy will be the everyday shortstop over the final days of the season, with Josh and A-Ram jockeying for third base time. Maybe it'll give the FO something to work on in the offseason, too.
Jordy, you may recall, lost several weeks on a similar (although the circumstances were a bit different) slide by Carlos Gomez. The league has the rarely enforced Posey rule on the books, meant to protect catchers in full gear; maybe Neal will consider pushing a "to the base" slide rule during the winter meetings to protect far more vulnerable infielders making a turn. He sure has a couple of reasons to bring the topic to the table. It's not easy to puncture a hoary tradition, but the league has to protect it's assets, the players, too.
In the present, the Bucs have a plane ride to the Left Coast to get over the disappointing series. They face the LA aces, Colorado and then a return bout against the Cubbies next weekend for 10 games before closing out the year at PNC against the Cards and Reds. The marathon season is nearing its end; the September run is a full sprint now.