|Chad had a stormy start, then settled in (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
The Bucs went down in order in the third; they've hit one ball out of the infield. The first Cubbie was retired, so the ensuing double (Josh Bell zigged when he should have zagged while tracking a soft bloop, but was in a tough spot because of the shift) and walk didn't cause any damage this time. J-Hay walked to open the fourth and promptly got picked off. Prob no diff as the guys behind him became garden variety outs. The Cubs got a two-out knock to turn the order over. Gregory singled to kick off the fifth. Starling hit into a force and then was nabbed trying to steal second; Pirate runners don't have much of a shelf life tonight. A whiff ended it. Kuhl spun a clean frame.
JJ doubled with two gone in the sixth and was left aboard. AJ Schugel came on; Chad was actually pretty solid after a rough start. The Cubs went down, stranding a leadoff rap. Cutch singled with an out in the seventh. He was forced by Gregory, who stole second. Starling followed with an opposite field liner, but it found leather. AJ spun another clean frame. Hendricks left after 99 tosses, replaced by Carl Edwards Jr in the eighth. Jordy doubled with two gone and Matt Joyce caught a 3-2 hung curve, but his liner to the CF ivy found a mitt, too. Jared Hughes took to the hill, giving up a walk and posting a goose egg.
|AJ put up a couple of zeroes (photo USA Today)|
Clint isn't the only skipper to use his closer with a three run lead; Maddon sent Aroldis Chapman out to face the top of the order, and 12 fastballs later, it was over.
Kuhl and the bullpen kept the game in reach, but this was the Bucs' toughest matchup. Hendricks is a soft tosser (he never hit 90) with five pitches and pin point control, and the Pirates have been traditionally a fastball hunting team. If a couple of bullets would have found grass, it may have been a different ballgame. They didn't, so just tip your cap to Kyle and hope Vogey has a day tomorrow.
- The Pirates brought up IF Alen Hanson and LH reliever Kelvin Marte from Indy just before tonight's game. Steven Brault and Jameson Taillion were optioned to Bristol, where they'll join Adam Frazier, at least on the roster. All three will be back Friday when the Appy League schedule ends, so neither Jamo nor Brault will miss a start. The Lobster, Kyle Lobstein, was DFA'd to clear space for Marte on the 40-man roster. Now the bullpen and bench are both at regular strength.
- The trainer told the press gang that Ivan Nova looks like he'll make his next start, and JHK should be able to take swings & play in games again shortly. Cole Train said he expects to back on the mound again this season and he's already starting some long toss. So all is good on the injury front.
- With the trade of Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley, 1B Jose Osuna & RHP Edgar Santana land on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Pirates Prospects list.