The Cubs led off the second with a Javier Baez double. He was bunted up, but Kuhl left him at third. JHK opened with a four pitch walk, Starling followed with a knock and S-Rod looked at four low ones. Josh took a wild heater in the back foot to bring in a run. Plate ump Larry Vanover is equal opportunity; he missed strike three on Eric Fryer, who took advantage to lift a sac fly, tying the game and sending S-Rod to third. Paid off, too, as C Wilson Contreras' pickoff went into right, scoring Rodriguez and moving Josh up a station. Chad picked up an infield knock before Lester finished off the frame with a pair of whiffs.
|Cutch is on fire, right on time (photo Pirates)|
Rizzo tripled off an elevated heater to start the third; Chad can't get his fastball to sit down. He came in an out later; Kang clanged a routine chopper that went for an infield knock instead of E-5. Another single ended Chad's night as Juan Nicasio took the ball. After a K, Baez beat out an infield knock that Jordy ho-hummed; Freeser was napping at first as Contreras kept on going and scored the go ahead run. Juan then walked Lester on four pitches to load the bases before another K. It was knotted again quickly; Cutch lined Lester's second pitch 409' into the LF seats. Two outs later, S-Rod golfed a hook 412' over the wall in LC; crazy ballgame. And, btw, Josh was hit for- he's been limping since being drilled; S-Rod will go to second and Matt Joyce to right.
Kris Bryant took an 0-2 slider the opposite way for a lead off double in the fourth. Rizzo followed with another and went to third on a bouncer. A five pitch walk ended Juan's night as Arquimedes Caminero took his turn, and a pop and tapper kept it tied. Adam Warren took the hill. Fryer greeted him with a single. Arquie couldn't bunt him up, but it was a wash as Jordy walked. They both moved up on a slow roller, and it was big. Cutch plated them both with a big two out, two strike rap to make it 7-5.
|Arquie tossed six consecutive 100+ pitches (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
Cammy K'ed the side in the fifth. Starling opened with a walk and a steal, and an out later Matt Joyce was walked intentionally. Eric singled on a liner that Warren deflected with his mitt just in the nick of time to load 'em up. Josh Bell got the call to hit and dang - he was served a hung change and launched it 419' over the delirious crowd into the Allegheny. Before they could sit down, Jordy dropped another souvenir 402' into the seats to make it 12-5. AJ Schugel answered the phone for the sixth and promptly walked the first hitter. A single put Cubbies on the corners, but Schugs traded a big DP for a run and finished with a whiff. Spencer Patton authored Chicago's first 1-2-3 frame.
Jared Hughes took the ball in the seventh and gave up a leadoff double. No prob; Jared coaxed three routine outs afterward to put up another goose egg. Justin Grimm did his Grimm Reaper imitation, striking out the 7-8-9 batters. Rizzo doubled with two gone in the eighth but died at second. Hector Rondon toed the rubber and took his turn striking out the side; Vanover went from missing strikes to expanding the zone as the game (and score) wore on. He's had a miserable day calling strikes; we're glad it's a runaway and he's not factor. With two gone in the ninth, Hughes surrendered an infield single to merely delay the inevitable as the Bucs took a 12-6 win from the Cubs.
|Jared Hughes closed out the game with three shutout innings (photo Pirates)|
Both sides had some smokin' bats tonight - the Bucs lost four baseballs, and the Cubs had runners everywhere but couldn't cash them in on a 3-for-17 RISP evening. Chad Kuhl came up with a rep as a ground ball guy, but he's been leaving way too many pitches up and over the dish; he has to locate his heater better to gain any trust from Clint. But 12 runs make up for a multitude of sins, and the Pirates can dream sweet of a sweep tomorrow. It's been a remarkable run - after hanging around for a longshot playoff spot, suddenly the Pirates have won nine of 10/12 of 14, and are now 6-1/2 back of the Cubs and 1-1/2 out of the wildcard.
- The Corsairs put up a dozen runs on just nine hits, with Cutch and Eric Fryer collected a pair. But counting walks/HBP (there were seven), eleven different Pirates reached safely against Chi-town.
- Josh left the game with "left foot discomfort." And later in the fray, Matt Joyce departed with quad tightness.
- Tonight was the first save (he worked with the lead for three innings and finished the game) for Jared Hughes since Oct. 1st, 2012 against the Braves and the third of his career.
- In a night of fireworks, David Freese had his nine-game hitting streak snapped.
- JHK is having reverse split problems. He's hitting .204 against them this year, and only batted .238 versus portsiders in 2015.
- Anthony Rizzo is hitting .524 (22-of-42) against the Bucs this year.
- Another reason to bring up Josh Bell before the ASB instead of another arm: Jeff Locke is available out of the bullpen this weekend if needed. But after today's game...