Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Niese Rocked, Arrieta Cruises as Cubs Take 7-1 Decision

Good start for Jon Niese: ground ball single, 5-4-3 DP, ground out; dirt burners are a good sign. JJ drew a five pitch walk off Jake Arrieta to open for Pittsburgh (and the called strike wasn't); Cutch did the same. Jake found the zone and Freese went down swinging, followed by a pair of weak grounders to leave the Bucs scoreless. Can't go blowin' chances against the guy... it was the first time in his career he walked two guys to open a game.

Anthony Rizzo got in a quick 0-2 hole to start the second, then Niese plunked him and Ben Zobrist doubled him to third on a bouncer up the line. A grounder brought in a run, then a walk, after being up 1-2, put Cubbies on the corners. Another free pass loaded 'em up, and Arrieta, who's a fine hitter, lined a single into center. A K and pop ended the damage at 2-0 Chi-town. S-Rod singled with one gone; Jordy's DP finished the frame.

Jon Niese had a very bad day at the office (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Niese gave up a single to Kris Bryant to start the third; like Cole Train last night, he can't keep the leadoff guy off base. A wild pitch moved Bryant to second; there he stayed, thanks to a run-saving grab by S-Rod. The Pirates went down in order. The first Cub walked in the fourth *sigh* and Tim Federowitz doubled the opposite way; the bottom of the order is feasting tonight. With an out, another wild pitch brought in a run and Dexter Fowler walked after falling behind 0-2. A pair of knocks brought two more Cubs home and Rizzo doubled in another to make it 6-0. Pittsburgh? 1-2-3.

The Cubs were held off the board in the fifth, tho the eight hitter singled and the pitcher walked; S-Rod again flagged down a potential run-scoring smash - back-to-back. On the other side, Arrieta ran his consecutive out streak to 10. Be back in a bit...going down the bar; maybe hockey or hoops is on. Nope, it's the ballgame. David Freese is at second for the first time ever as a pro, Jason Rogers at third and S-Rod at short; the white flag has been hoisted. AJ Schugel retired the side in order; Arrieta did the same.

S-Rod continued to impress in the field and at bat (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Cubbies went quietly in the seventh; Fran *yay* singled with two outs to break Arrieta's streak at 15 straight outs. AJ put up another zippo - maybe he should have started - and the Bucs scored an unearned run off Trevor Cahill on a single, bad throw and bouncer. The Cubs added a run off Jared Hughes in the ninth while Cahill put it to rest in his half.

Well, a week ago it looked like Jeff Locke was Jameson Taillon/Tyler Glasnow bait; that's certainly changed. as Niese was rattled for nine hits, five walks and a HBP for six runs in five innings. Jameson Taillon shadows his spot in the rotation at Indy, pitching tonight...just sayin'. And oh, Taillon went seven IP, pitched a goose egg with two hits, one walk and three K on 89 pitches, at one point retiring 16 batters in a row.

And yes, lotta pressure on Juan Nicasio tomorrow to salvage a game against Jon Lester. The Cards are coming up Friday and it's off to Wrigley starting the 13th, so this is an exceptionally bad time for a tailspin.

  • S-Rod had a pair of hits and three very sweet plays at second, and AJ Schugel worked three scoreless frames nine up, nine down, with three whiffs. 
  • Jake Arrieta has won 15 straight road games (in 19 starts).
  • Small crowd tonight of 22,195.
  • The Rockies-Pirates game that was slushed out on April 28th was rescheduled for June 9th. The Pirates play at PNC Park on June 8th and June 10th, both night games, one ending the Mets series and the other opening a set with the Cardinals. Ugh. Can't blame MLB; the Rockies are solely responsible for rescheduling postponements. 
  • Dr James Andrews operated on Elias Diaz today; the type of surgery still hasn't been disclosed, although it's not though to be a TJ procedure.

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