Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jake, Fowler & Schwarber End The Bucs Season 4-0

The game started with JHK wheeled out on the field to a crazy ovation, Petrina McCutchen killing the Anthem (again), Bob Walk's full windup first pitch, a Michael Keaton vid ending with "...this is our town; this is our time" and the place going bonkers as Cole Train and the boys stepped out on the field. TBS, of course, missed virtually all of it, but hey, had to be there anyway.

Dexter Fowler led off with a single that Cutch played kinda conservatively and stole second when Josh, in a shift, dropped Fran's throw. Of course the combo hurt when Kyle Schwarber took a pitch the opposite way for an RBI knock. Gerrit looks a little over-amped, but settled down to get a DP . An error by Walker let another runner aboard when S-Rod couldn't come up a shorthop, but the run was all the damage done after a K. No answer for the Bucs; Cutch singled with two gone, but Starling became the second whiff of the frame.

It was a routine second for Gerrit; ditto for Jake, who along with Cole is getting a generous corner from ump Jeff Nelson and the high strike.

The top of the order did Cole Train in again. With an out, Fowler dropped a single to right and Schwarber got a 2-1 breaking ball that hung and crushed it over the top rows of the Clemente Wall. Kris Bryant walked after falling behind 0-2; Gerrit is overthrowing and the bullpen phone rang to get Jared Hughes up. Cole got another DP, but an early three run lead is the last thing you want to give Arrieta. He struck out the side. Pedro hit for S-Rod and Cole batted for himself, surprisingly, but no diff; Buc batters look completely lost at the dish.

The Cubs got a two out single from Kris Bryant in the fourth; that was one more runner than Pittsburgh had. Gerrit fed Fowler a 2-2 heater right down the middle; he bombed it out to right center to make it 4-0; Fowler was 3-for-14 lifetime against Cole, but is 3-for-3 today with three runs scored and a RBI. Arrieta struggled with his command in the fifth, but no diff; he grazed Fran's hand, got a pop out, then a pair of called K on Jordy and Pedro, with neither pitch really close to being a strike; it's like the GregMaddux/Tom Glavine days.

Antonio Bastardo worked a clean sixth. The Bucs made noise, but...Travis Snider opened with a single, then Kris Bryant, who had just moved to third from left, knocked Gregory's liner into the air, and snagged it before it came down; it's good to have a 6'6" guy there, especially as he was playing in to guard against a bunt. Josh got bopped and Cutch banged one up the middle; it ate up Addison Russel for a knock and loaded the bases. Starling came to plate, and Russell made amends, starting a 6-4-3 DP to crush the uprising. In justice to Marte, the ball was smoked (it left the bat at 109 MPH), but right at the shortstop, so Arrieta has dodged a couple of bullets through the intervention of the baseball gods.

The Bucs biggest outburst (image from TBS)
Tony Watson tossed an interesting seventh. With two gone, he drilled Arrieta in the hip, after Jake had plunked Bucs in consecutive innings. Jake took a slow stroll with some choice words along the way, and the benches emptied. Except for Sean Rodriguez losing his mind and eventually being ejected, calm returned and the Cubs had another zero. Fran singled to open, but The Kid whiffed after being ahead 3-0, chasing a pair of ankle-nipping sliders. A-Ram batted for Jordy; he hit one squarely on a hop to third, Bryant backhanded the ball and started an around the horn DP to flush away another inning. Finding some grass just doesn't seem to be in the cards tonight.

After a leadoff walk in the eighth, Joakim Soria settled in a struck out the side. Arrieta and the Pirates returned to early inning form; Michael Morse singled, but a pair of Ks - Pedro struck out for the third time; he hasn't seen a slider he can lay off of yet tonight - and a soft pop to right left MM at first.

Mark the Shark came on and after two were down got a boost from Starling, who threw out Russell trying to turn a single into a double. The Bucs went down in order, and the season came to a quiet end.

Joe Madden had the better idea tonight, starting with offense and bringing in the D, and it worked perfectly as Kyle Schwarber had three RBI and was on the bench by mid-game while Kris Bryant's move from left to third killed in a couple of wanna-be rallies with his glove.

For the Bucs, Gerrit was just too hyped up. He's also a notoriously slow starter, giving up 34 (19 in the first inning alone) of his 64 runs in the first three frames, and a slow jump from the gate was not something the Pirates needed tonight. They tried to make a game of it in the middle frames, but couldn't find the clutch blow as they went 0-for-10 with RISP. Lady luck helped, too; the Bucs had Jake on the ropes in the sixth, but he was given second life with a couple of ripped at 'em balls.

Great season; lousy ending. Maybe one year they'll figure out how to win the division so their season doesn't end on a Bumgarner or Arrieta shutout. They could start with a bonafide ace; their staff is plenty deep enough to compete in a series, but is shy one Cy Young candidate. Still, 2015 was a terrific campaign; no one had them finishing at 98 wins, and the hot stove league should be cookin' this winter with comings and goings.

  • Inside Edge Scouting noted that "McCutchen is now the only hitter with three well-hit balls against Arrieta in one game this season."
  • Pittsburgh has been shutout on eight hits total in their last two playoff games.
  • 40,889 fans filled the yard tonight, the largest game crowd ever at PNC Park.
  • Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber accounted for all four Cub runs against Cole Train; they went a combined 5-for-6 with two homers against him.
  • This was the Cubs first playoff win since 2003.
  • Arrieta has not allowed a run in the first inning in any of his last 23 games, dating back to June 4th. He also is the first pitcher in baseball history with double-digit K's (11) and no walks in a postseason complete game shutout. Of course, the two HBP deserve an asterisk on that stat.
  • Commish Rob Manfred was in the house tonight.

No comments: