The Pittsburgh Pirates’ four game series against the Chicago Cubs ended with a 9-6 loss and also lost Jung Ho Kang for the remainder of the season due to a leg injury that occurred on a Chris Coghlan slide. The disappointing series ended with the Pirates losing three of four games to the Cubs and dropping their record to 87-59 going into their upcoming west coast road trip.
The Cubs got to Charlie Morton in the first inning when Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double play to bring in the first run of the game. During the double play, Coghlan came in hard into Kang’s leg, who immediately went down but was still able to get a decent throw off to first base to complete the play. Kang was on the ground for a long time and was eventually helped off the field by the trainers.
Chciago tacked on two more runs in the second inning off of run scoring doubles by Addison Russell and Tommy La Stella. Travis Snider got one of the runs back in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run, his first since rejoining the team. The Pirates took the lead in the third inning off of a Gregory Polanco home run and then a two run shot by Pedro Alvarez. This was enough for Joe Maddon to end Kyle Hendricks‘ afternoon and meant the Pirates would be facing bullpen arms from here on out.
In the fifth inning, the Cubs knocked Morton out of the game and then tagged Joe Blanton for three runs before he could even record an out. Coglan started the inning with a double and came in to score on a Rizzo home run. After Kris Bryant reached, Hurdle removed Morton for Blanton. Miguel Montero reached base by an error by Alvarez. Russell singled to bring in Bryant and then Blanton served up a double to relief pitcher Clayton Richard that scored two more runs.
La Stella followed with another run scoring single to give the Cubs a five run lead. Hurdle mercifully put Bobby LaFromboise in to finish the inning and to put an end to the worst outing Blanton has had since joining the club. The Pirates chipped away at the lead in the seventh off of a run scoring single by Polanco and a ground rule double by Neil Walker that resulted in a run, but unfortunately that represented the end of the attempted comeback by Pittsburgh on Thursday.
What Stood Out
Losing three out of four games to the Cubs shows that the Pirates continue to struggle against division opponents, a trend that has been going on all season. The playoff race is by no means over because the Pirates lost this series, but it will make all the future games against the Cubs, Cardinals and to some extent the other two teams in the division, all the more important. On the other hand they have played well against the NL West, so perhaps this upcoming trip is what the Pirates need.
More from Pirates News
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023
- Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being Improved
- Pittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Bob Nutting, Please Sell the Team
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Free Agent Starting Pitchers Still Available
The big news from this game is obviously the injury to Kang and the ripple effect it will have on the everyday lineup. Kang has been a wonderful surprise in his first season in Pittsburgh, providing the Pirates with much more offense than they could have hoped for this early in his MLB career. Similar to how Kang filled in when Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison were hurt, those two players will be asked to step in and give a boost to the offense. It’s obviously a disappointment to see Kang go down so close to the start of the postseason, but at this time it’s important for him and the team to focus on his recovery and get ready for 2016.
The Pirates will travel out west to begin a three game series with the Dodgers at 10:10pm on Friday. Jeff Locke has the daunting task of opposing Zack Greinke, who considered a top candidate for the Cy Young Award this season. Locke pitched well his last time out, going into the seventh inning against the Brewers and limiting them to just one run while striking out seven. Greinke is sporting a 1.61 ERA and 17-6 record to go along with wins in eight of his last ten starts. A tough assignment indeed for the Pirates.