The Pittsburgh Pirates lost a heart-breaker Friday evening to the Chicago Cubs on a play that will stick with Pirate fans for the rest of the season. In a high-scoring game that featured five home runs and went to extras, the story after the game was a blunder in the outfield by Pirates’ right fielder Gregory Polanco, which led to a Cubs walk-off win.
Jeff Locke, in an outing in which he was trying to help himself lock down a spot in the starting rotation as Charlie Morton looks to return from his rehab assignment soon, lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up five runs on five hits, including two home runs, and three walks, raising his ERA on the season to 5.40. The Cubs countered with Kyle Hendricks, who didn’t fare much better, lasting 5.2 innings, and giving up five runs on eight hits and a walk. The Pirates and Cubs combined to use 16 pitchers, including the entire Pirate bullpen, who threw a combined 496 pitches over the course of the game. Each club had 15 hits on the day, including a four-hit game from Josh Harrison. Radhames Liz was tagged with the loss for the Pirates, while Edwin Jackson earned the win for the Cubs.
The Cubs struck first on a three-run home run from rookie sensation Kris Bryant in the first inning. The Cubs would then go up 7-1 in the fifth following a two-run RBI single by left fielder Matt Szczur. The Pirates’ drew closer in the sixth, in part thanks to a Francisco Cervelli double, which plated two. Cervelli was 3-6 with four RBIs on the day. The Cubs made it 10-5 in the seventh, but an outpouring of offense in the eighth and ninth innings by the Pirates evened the score at 10 and sent the game to extras. The game would end in the 12th when Szczur hit a shallow fly ball to right field with one out and the bases loaded. Considering the same situation presented itself earlier in the game and Polanco threw a man out at the plate, it’s safe to say that that could have happened again. Unfortunately, Polanco seemed to lose his footing as the ball dropped harmlessly to the ground, allowing Starlin Castro to score from third as the game ended 11-10.
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What Stood Out
The play that stood out in the game, and one that will stand out for the rest of the season, was Polanco’s gaffe in right field. It may be a while before Pirate fans can laugh about that one.
Jeff Locke had a bad outing in a game he could have used to secure a rotation spot before Charlie Morton returns. His ERA now stands at 5.40 on the season, while his competition in Vance Worley has an ERA sitting at 4.38. Worley’s last start was unimpressive as well, as he lasted only four innings and threw 81 pitches.
Josh Harrison continues to shine recently, as he was 4-6 with three runs scored and an RBI that came on an important solo home run in the eighth inning. His average is now up to .222 on the season. Andrew McCutchen also added two hits on the day, including a three-run home run in the eighth that drew the Pirates to within one run. His average is up to .238 as he continues to improve on a forgettable April.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (17-19) will take on the Chicago Cubs (20-15) Saturday afternoon in game two of the three-game weekend set. Gerrit Cole (5-1, 2.32 ERA) looks to even the series for the Pirates, while Jon Lester (3-2, 4.10 ERA) looks to win the series for the Cubs. First pitch is slated for 4:05 PM at Wrigley Field.