Pittsburgh Pirates 2, Chicago Cubs 1: Stars And Stiffs
Stop the presses, the Pittsburgh Pirates have beaten the Chicago Cubs!
The Pittsburgh Pirates have finally beaten the Chicago Cubs, yay! Powered by arguably the most dominating start of Gerrit Cole’s career, the Pittsburgh Pirates earned a 2-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday. Here are the three Pittsburgh Pirates stars and stiffs from their 2-1 victory.
Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole – The Pittsburgh Pirates needed their ace to step up and pitch like an ace on Sunday afternoon, and he did just that. In a game where the Pirates desperately needed it, Gerrit Cole pitched arguably the best game of his Major League career.
Gerrit Cole pitched eight spectacular innings allowing just three hits, no runs, no walks, he struck out seven batters, and he retired the final 13 Cubs hitters he faced. In my opinion, Cole should have been sent out to go for the complete game in the ninth inning since he had only thrown 95 pitches but that did not happen. It is just another example of why the National League needs the DH, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Of the three hits Cole allowed, really only one was a legit hit. The first two hits Cole allowed were a bloop double by Dexter Fowler to lead off the game on a ball that Jordy Mercer lost in the sun, and an infield hit by Addison Russell on a play where Mercer struggled to corral the ball.
Gerrit Cole was very much so the ace that he is today. He was the stopper, he put a foot down, and he brought from the first inning. A tip of the cap to Gerrit Cole who flat out dominated the best lineup in baseball today.
Left fielder Starling Marte – In what looks like will be Starling Marte’s last game for a few days as he prepares to go on paternity leave, he collected the Pirates first hit of the game and scored the first Pirate run.
Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester took a no hitter into the seventh inning, but then Starling Marte singled to lead off the inning. After singling, Marte stole second base and would score on a double by Jung Ho Kang.
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang – Jung Ho Kang continues to prove to be one of the best players on the Pittsburgh Pirates roster. On Sunday afternoon Kang went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, a home run, and he drove in both Pirate runs.
Kang gave the Pirates the lead in the top of the seventh when he lined a double into the right-center field gap to score Starling Marte from first base. Then in the top of the ninth with the Pirates leading 1-0, Kang gave the Bucs some insurance that they would need by blasting his fourth home run of the season into the left field seats.
Jung Ho Kang also played some stellar defense on Sunday afternoon, which was highlighted by a diving stop on a ball hit by Javier Baez in the bottom of the second inning. Also, in the two at bats where Kang was retired he hit the ball well. One at bat ended with him lining out to short stop, and the other with him lining out to right field. Jung Ho Kang brought his A game to the ballpark on Sunday afternoon.
Closer Mark Melancon – Holding a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning the Pittsburgh Pirates turned to closer Mark Melancon and he came unglued. Melancon is usually as reliable as a closer as you will find, but that was not the case today.
Melancon walked Dexter Fowler to lead off the ninth inning and then Jason Heyward singled to put runners on the corners with no one out. However, Melancon was able to retire the next three batters, while allowing a run via a sacrifice fly, to lock up the 2-1 Pirate victory.
In Melancon’s defense though, he did get squeezed in the ninth inning. Balls two and four to Dexter Fowler should have been called a strike, and if Fowler was not on base Jason Heyward’s hit would have been hit right at first base man David Freese. Also, even though it did not matter, Melancon should have retired Ben Zobrist looking on strikes but was squeezed again.
I said it at the time, and I’ll reiterate it now, pinch hitting for Gerrit Cole in the top of the ninth was the wrong move. Cole had dominated all day long, was in total control, and should have been brought out to at least start the ninth inning.
That will do it for today. The Pirates player a good all-around game today, and I am in too good of a mood after it to dub anyone else stiffs for this one.
Next: Gerrit Cole Needs To Be An Ace Today
The Pittsburgh Pirates, behind Gerrit Cole’s dominance, were able to salvage the final game of this series and finally beat the Chicago Cubs. Now, the Bucs will head home to PNC Park with a record of 19-17 and will prepare for a ten game home stand against three bad teams. Time to make hay.