Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cubs Make the Plays, Smack Three Homers To Earn 4-3 Win

After a day of moves, the Bucs got off to a booming start against Jon Lester when Jordy opened the game with a dinger. An out later, Cutch drew a rare Lester walk and swiped second; JHK also was issued a free pass. But Cutch got happy feet and was nailed easily trying to add third to his booty bag. Freeser walked, and the inning ended when Matt Joyce hit a ball hard but right to SS to end the frame. Jon Niese spun a 1-2-3 frame. The bottom of the Buc order didn't put of much of a fight in the second. The Cubs quickly tied the game when Anthony Rizzo smacked an 0-2 curve into the right field seats, followed by a lineout and a double. An out later, he intentionally walked the eight hitter and whiffed Lester.

Jordy opened the third with a double and came in on Cutch's one out single. JHK drilled a liner that was ticketed for left before Addison Russell made a diving snag, then doubled up Cutch. Niese walked Kris Bryant with two gone with no damage but to his pitch count.

Freeser had another good day at the dish (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Freeser singled and Joyce doubled to open the fourth. S-Rod followed with an infield knock that froze the runners (Russell checked them, then got the ball to first too late). Kratz and Niese K'ed, but Jordy took a 2-2 hook in the foot for an easy RBI before Josh went fishin' and fanned. Man, for a big hit. The Cubs opened with a bunt single. A force put Javy Baez on; he was picked off, but Jordy missed the tag at second, as verified by review. A wild pitch moved him up, and then came a walk. A squeeze by David Ross plated a run that shouldn't have been to make it 3-2 after four.

Freeser's infield knock was the only Bucco noise in the fifth. After two outs, Bryant tied the game by taking an 0-1 heater long, a 448' blast that landed in the street. Rizzo followed with a double that should have been caught as Joyce initially broke the wrong way. That was followed by a walk before the third out. Pittsburgh went down in order in the sixth, with Baez taking away a hit from S-Rod. And guess what - David Ross took a full count yard to put the Cubs up 4-3. Jared Hughes came on to finish up the frame.

Pedro Strop came in for the seventh and tucked the Bucs away. Hughes hit Jason Heyward and intentionally walked Rizzo an out later with first base open. Zobrist then walked unintentionally. That brought in Neftali Feliz, who saved the day with a DP ball. JHK opened the eighth with a single and moved to second on a slow roller. Travis Wood came on for a lefty matchup with Joyce, and Starling came in to run for JHK. Jason Rogers hit for Matt (who was batting .313. v LHP); he took two strikes and waved at the third.  Closer Hector Rondon took the ball to face S-Rod, who popped out to right. Lotta moves, and the Cubs made all the right ones.

Cutch is responding well to the three spot (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Mark the Shark took the hill, with JJ at first, Freeser at third and Starling in left. He showed some rust with a walk but put up a goose egg. Kratz opened the ninth trying to bunt his way aboard; it didn't work. JJ was late on a heater and flew out to left, and Jordy looked at strike three; call it a night.

The Cubs made all the routine plays and stole a couple of hits; the Pirates allowed a couple of free runners via their D. Bucco pitching gave up three homers and seven walks. The big inning is out of the playbook. With the injuries, there's always a couple of bench guys in the lineup (remember when the order was stable?) and the bottom of the order, which contributed heavily when Josh & Jordy were hitting 7-8, is now just the bottom of the order. Tough times for the Pirates; we'll see if the FO has any tricks up its sleeve or will just try to weather the storm.

  • Freeser went 2-for-3 and walked while Jordy was 2-for-4 plus a HBP. Cutch and JHK reached twice with a hit and walk. The rest of the team got on base twice.
  • Jordy's dinger was his first MLB leadoff homer. 
  • Andrew is 2-of-5 in base stealing this season. 
  • Jon Niese's 17 homers are the second most surrendered in MLB. Today's the sixth time in 14 starts he's given up multiple long flies and the second time he's been touched for a trio.
  • The Pirates lost four in a row, 9-of-10 and 14-of-18.
  • Lester had gone three straight games without issuing a walk before losing three Bucs in a row in the first frame.
  • SABR issued its defensive ratings; most of the Buc position players are in the middle of the pack. The notables: Marte is #2 for LF with a 4.7 rating while the only negative ratings belong to Cutch (-0.7) and Jordy (-5.8). Per Fangraphs, the UZR's are -3.7 for Cutch and -5.7 for Jordy, so...
  • He's the Energizer Bunny. Austin Meadows left a 24 game hitting streak behind him at Altoona and singled in his first at bat as an Indy Indian. He collected three knocks on the day. Austin is wearing #19, Jameson Taillon's old number, so they don't foresee JT coming back down.

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