Pittsburgh Pirates 2, Chicago Cubs 6: Stars And Stiffs
The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Wednesday to get swept for the first time this season. Here are the three stars and stiff from the Pirate loss on Wednesday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been swept for the first time this season. On Wednesday afternoon the Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs by a score of 6-2, getting swept in the three game series. With the loss, the Pirates fell to 15-13 overall on the season. Here are the three stars and stiffs from Wednesday afternoon’s loss.
Pitcher Tony Watson – Left-handed setup man Tony Watson got an inning of work on Wednesday afternoon and he threw a scoreless eighth. Watson walked a batter, but did not allow a hit in his inning of work. In Watson’s last seven appearances he has pitched 8 1/3 innings allowing just six hits while striking out seven. Despite having walked four, which is too high a number for 8 1/3 innings pitched, Watson has posted a solid 2.16 ERA in these seven outings. After some early season struggles, Tony Watson appears to be returning to old form.
Pinch hitter Matt Joyce – Matt Joyce only got one at bat on Wednesday afternoon, but he was able to make the most of it. With one out in seventh inning and Andrew McCutchen on second base Matt Joyce hit an Adam Warren fastball out of the park for his fourth home run, second as a pinch hitter, of the season. Matt Joyce continues to be a great signing by Neal Huntington as he now owns a .371/.511/.771/1.282 slash line on the season, to go with a .531 wOBA and a wRC+ of 235.
Third baseman David Freese – After going 2-for-3 on Wednesday afternoon David Freese now owns a .291/.376/.388/.764 slash line on the season to go along with an above league average wOBA (.343) and wRC+ (113). Freese has continued to provide the Pittsburgh Pirates with solid offense and reliable defense at third base in the absence of Jung Ho Kang, who should return in the next few days. Even once Kang returns, Freese will continue to play a big role spelling Kang at third base and starting at first base against left-handed pitchers.
Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen – Despite going 2-for-5 with a double and a run score on Wednesday, Andrew McCutchen played a big hand in the Pirate loss. With two outs in the third inning and a runner on first Anthony Rizzo hit a line drive to centerfield that should have been caught for the third out of the inning, but Andrew McCutchen dropped the ball and very bad things followed. On the very next pitch Ben Zobrist drove a Juan Nicasio fastball over the right-centerfield wall for a three-run home run to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Two infield hits and 15 extra Juan Nicasio pitches later, the third inning finally ended. If not for McCutchen’s error leading to three unearned runs and 15 extra Juan Nicasio pitches in the third inning, this game could have ended very differently.
Pitcher Ryan Vogelsong – Long reliever Ryan Vogelsong entered the game in the sixth inning with the Pirates trailing 4-0. After throwing a scoreless sixth, Vogelsong allowed an Anthony Rizzo home run in the seventh inning to extend the Cubs lead to 5-0. Despite having an ERA of just 3.60, Vogelsong has struggled mightily this season. In 15 innings pitched Vogelsong has a 5.73 FIP, 4.97 xFIP, and a BABIP of .190, all of these numbers indicate he is due for some seriously painful regression. Vogelsong’s walk rate of 4.20 BB/9 is the highest he has had since 2006, and his 1.80 HR/9 is the worst of his career. As was expected coming into the season, Ryan Vogelsong has really struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016.
Third inning offense – David Freese singled to lead off the third, Starling Marte walked, and then Francisco Cervelli singled to load the bases with zero outs and the Pirates trailing 3-0. Unfortunately, the Pirates were unable to cash in against Jon Lester. Sean Rodriguez was able to get ahead in the count 3-1 against Lester, but then twice swung at what would have been ball four to strike out. Josh Harrison then popped out to shallow right field, and David Freese was unable to score. Finally, Gregory Polanco struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. The worst part of this was that the Pirates let Lester off the hook.
Lester did not necessarily make a bunch of great pitches to get out of the jam. As I said above, Sean Rodriguez twice swung at would be ball four. Also, Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison both swung and miss at balls that were middle-middle and begging to be ripped.