Chicago Cubs 4, Pittsburgh Pirates 3: Stars And Stiffs

Jun 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (18) reacts to giving up a home run to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (background) during the second inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (18) reacts to giving up a home run to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (background) during the second inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

On Saturday night the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to just 4-13 in the month of June with a 4-3 loss against the Chicago Cubs.

Well, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now just 33-35 overall. On Saturday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field by a score of 4-3. This was the Pirates’ 13th loss in 17 tries in the month of July. However, this one was especially frustrating.

The reason this loss was so frustrating is that the Pittsburgh Pirates took the lead in the top of the first and held that lead until the bottom of the fifth inning. The game would remained tied until the bottom of the sixth inning. Also, one of the Cubs’ runs was the result of a poor defensive play by Jordy Mercer. Anyway, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Saturday night’s loss.


Shortstop Jordy Mercer – Even though the Bucco shortstop struck out to end the game on Saturday night, he still had one of his best games of the season. Jordy Mercer went 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run, a double, and two RBI. This raised Mercer’s on-base percentage on the season to a very healthy .357. 

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Jordy Mercer led off the game with a home run on just the second pitch that Jon Lester threw. In his next at bat, he would double to lead off the top of the third inning and he came around to score on an Andrew McCutchen base hit. Finally, Mercer would pick up his second RBI of the game when he got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

First baseman/third baseman David Freese – David Freese started Saturday night’s game at first base and finished at third base. At the plate, Freese went 2-for-3 with a walk. On the season Freese now has a .353 wOBA and a 125 wRC+.

David Freese also made a great defensively play on Saturday night. In the bottom of the first inning Freese made a good barehanded grab of a ground ball hit by Jason Heyward. Freese then flipped the ball to Jon Niese for the second out of the inning. The fact Freese did not play first base regularly until this season makes his two defensive runs saved at first base this season that much more impressive.

Relief pitcher Neftali Feliz – Neftali Feliz’s strong season continued on Saturday night. Feliz took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and just one out. However, Feliz would clean up this mess quickly.

On just the second pitch he threw Neftali Feliz got Javier Baez to hit into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play. I hate to think this way, but if the Pittsburgh Pirates do fall out of contention Feliz should be a great trade chip at the trade deadline. Neftali Feliz is averaging over 10 K/9, less than two BB/9, and has a FIP and xFIP under 3.70 this season.


Starting pitcher Jon Niese – On Saturday night Jon Niese’s struggles continued. When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded for Jon Niese in the offseason they expected him to be a strong number three pitcher, which is exactly what Niese had been since 2012. Entering the season Jon Niese had a 3.65 ERA, 3.88 FIP, and a 3.80 xFIP dating back to 2012.

Unfortunately for both Jon Niese and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Niese has not been that pitcher at all this season. In Saturday night’s loss Niese lasted just 5 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs including a trio of solo home runs. After Saturday night’s loss Niese now has a 4.74 ERA, 5.57 FIP, and a 4.29 xFIP this season.

All of those numbers are career worsts for Niese. Furthermore, Niese also has a career worst home run rate of 1.87 HR/9. Jon Niese, like Francisco Liriano, is having the worst season of his career and this is something the Pittsburgh Pirates never could have imagined.

Second baseman Josh Harrison – 

Catcher Erik Kratz – Erik Kratz continues to be the worst position player in all of Major League Baseball. On Saturday night Erik Kratz went 0-for-4 at the plate. However, he did only strike out once which dropped his strike out rate 46.3 percent to 45.5 percent!

Kratz also came to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out in the top of the fourth inning. Shockingly, Kratz struck out swinging on a pitch at his eyes in this at bat. This at bat proved to be critical, as the Pirates only scored one run in the fourth inning despite having the bases loaded with no one out.

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Saturday night’s loss was very frustrating. This was a game the Pittsburgh Pirates, quite honestly, should have won. The Pirates had Cubs’ starting pitcher Jon Lester on the ropes early, should have scored more runs than they did, and let him off the hook. Also, the Cubs’ second run was gifted to them due to a poor defensive play by Jordy Mercer.

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates will send their current best starting pitcher, Jameson Taillon, to the mound opposite Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs. Hopefully Taillon can continue to pitch well and can help the Pittsburgh Pirates avoid the sweep in Chicago. Even though I expect Taillon to pitch well on Sunday night, I would be lying if I told you I expect the Pirates to collect a victory.