Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates fall to Lester, Cubs, 4-1 for fourth straight loss


1. 4. 4. 9. Final

Despite another solid outing from Gerrit Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their fourth straight game, this time to the Chicago Cubs by a score of 4-1 on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates outhit the Cubs 11-8, but made three errors, struck out eight times, and only walked once as the team fell back to three games under .500. The biggest problem for the Pirates as a team was their batting with runners in scoring position. Pirate batters were one for 14 with RISP and had only three extra base hits on the day.

Gerrit Cole went six innings, giving up two runs, striking out eight, and walking only one in the process. He did throw 107 pitches and was pulled after six as the Pirates tried to manufacture runs with pinch hitters. The Cubs combatted Cole with offseason acquisition Jon Lester, who allowed only one run over seven innings, striking out seven and walking only one. He was a little better than Cole on Saturday afternoon.

The Cubs went up 1-0 early in the first inning as Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to score Kris Bryant from third. Bryant was 2-2 on the day with two walks, as he’s been a big part of the Cubs’ success so far this season. Sean Rodriguez tied the game in the third with a 400+ foot solo home run. He was 1-3 on the day and is batting .326 on the season as a utility player off the bench. The Cubs would then go up 2-1 in the third and wouldn’t relinquish the lead again. All of the Cubs’ runs on the day were created using small ball via two sacrifice flies, a fielder’s choice, and a wild pitch.

What Stood Out

The Pirates’ biggest problem this season, and a problem of years past, has been their play with runners in scoring position. The team was 1-14 on Saturday, which is bad to say the least. This ship needs to be righted if the Pirates want to climb out of the early season hole they’ve already put themselves in.

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On the positive side, Cole had another good outing and is looking like the workhorse and staff ace many have projected him to be. His season ERA now stands at 2.40 and his WHIP is 1.15 even though he was saddled with the loss, dropping him to 5-2.

Starling Marte continues to be the team’s MVP so far this season. He had three hits on the day, raising his average to .298 on the year, and stole his sixth base of the season. Jung Ho Kang also had three hits, raising his average to .299 on the season. Expect him to get more at-bats with Jordy Mercer having a bad start to the season.

What’s Next

The Pittsburgh Pirates (17-20) look to avoid the sweep in the final game of the three-game weekend set against the Chicago Cubs (21-15). A.J. Burnett (2-1, 1.60) has been one of the best pitchers in the National League so far this season as he looks to be the stopper for the Pirates. Jake Arrieta (4-3, 3.00 ERA) will combat Burnett on the mound. The teams’ are set to face off at 2:20 PM on Sunday at Wrigley Field.

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