Friday, July 7, 2017

Cubs Use the Long Ball to Drop Pirates 6-1

The Bucs tried to strike early against Eddie Butler. Cutch's two-out screamer was reviewed to see if it was a homer, but alas was only a two-bagger. Two following walks loaded the bases for Gregory, who K'ed. Chicago went after Trevor Williams softly; a bouncer slipped into left, then J-Hay threw away a bare-handed play to put Cubbies at second and third. Williams got a pop out, a liner into the shift (hey, it does work!), and a soft comebacker kept Chi-town at bay. The Bucs returned the favor in the second; Cervy singled and Jordy reached on a two-base drop in center after a collision, but the inning fell apart after that. The Pirates clanged two more balls, Fraze & Bell being the culprits to load the bases with an out, but again Williams worked around it. Cutch opened the third with a rap but no help behind him. The Cubs wasted a walk and a knock.

Trevor's fielders put him behind the eight ball today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It continued in the fourth; Gregory singled and Jordy walked, ultimately resulting in Bucs iced at second and third; the Pirates have seven LOB and are 0-for-6 w/RISP. Chicago broke the ice when Kris Bryant lined one off J-Hay's mitt and it rattled around for a triple, scoring Ben Zobrist from first. Anthony Rizzo homered, and not being able to find that third out has really bitten Trevor. Clint brought Wade LeBlanc on to close it out, not wanting Williams to face the lefty parade any longer, especially after burning 98 pitches. J-Hay opened the fifth by getting bopped, ending Butler's day and bringing on Carl Edwards Jr, generally a back-end guy, to finish the frame. Kyle Schwarber opened with a double and went to third on a bouncer, but was gunned down by J-Bell on a contact-play dash home. After a sixth inning walk sandwiched around a pair of whiffs, Pedro Strop replaced Edwards and got Fraze on a tapper. Jhan Marinez came on; a single was erased on a 6-4-3 DP but there was no way to negate Bryant's homer.

Cutch singled, went to second on a passed ball and scored on J-Bell's single in the seventh. The Cubs got a pair of walks, but a well-aimed liner by Jason Heyward found J-Bell, who stepped on first for a DP, kept them off the scoreboard. Koji Uehara tossed a quiet eighth; Antonio Bastardo gave up a walk and a Bryant dinger. Albert Almora worked a quiet ninth, walking Cutch and cruising along otherwise.

Josh's average may be sad (.229), but he's second behind Cutch with 43 RBI
(photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

True, the Bucs blew some early opps, but so did the Cubs. The clubs combined to go 3-for-24 w/RISP and strand 21 runners, with the long ball making all the diff. Chicago kept on comin' and the Pirates, except for Andrew, were throttled by Maddon using his best relievers early in the game; after all, except for Wade Davis (who he didn't put in), they all get a nice break after Sunday. And why Pittsburgh is carrying Antonio Bastardo (ERA - 15.00) is a mystery. The Pittsburgh end of the bad-contracts swap for Jon Niese is unmoveable at $6.625M, having been scored on in 10 of his last 11 appearances dating back to October. The FO is usually pretty savvy at bullpen building, but not so much this year.

  • Cutch has been unstoppable; he has three more hits and a free pass today, Cervy added a knock and a walk while JJ walked twice. Fraze and J-Hay continued their icy ways, going a combined 0-for-9.
  • The Bucs sent Elias Diaz back to Indy and called up another bullpen arm, RHP AJ Schugel. So it's an eight-man pen for the Cubs series and a four-man bench.
  • A thought from The Fans Colin Dunlap - might Jose Osuna be a fit at third base for the Bucs?
  • RHP Casey Sadler was promoted to the Altoona Curve. LHP Jared Lakind (1-1, 6.81), who was drafted as a 1B and later converted to P, was released by the Pirates.

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