Chicago Cubs 8, Pittsburgh Pirates 7: Stars And Stiffs
On Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates suffered a gut wrenchingly painful loss to the Chicago Cubs. In a game the Pirates appeared to have in hand, the Bucs lost 8-7 in extra innings.
On Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates suffered a gut wrenchingly painful loss to the Chicago Cubs. Monday night’s game was one that feature many mental mistakes from the Pirates. Due to bad defense, poor base running, wasted offensive opportunities, and the bullpen blowing a lead after eight innings, and then again after the top of the 13th inning, the Bucs did themselves no favors in Monday’s loss.
After the loss, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now just 3-10 against the Cubs this season. That includes being just 1-6 at Wrigley Field. Also, due to the St. Louis Cardinals being victorious on Monday night, the Pirates are now one and a half games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot. Any who, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from Monday night.
First baseman Josh Bell – The impressive start to Josh Bell’s career continued on Monday night. So far in his Major League career Bell has hit all the pitching he has faced well. However, most impressively, he has owed defending Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.
On Monday night Josh Bell had three plate appearances against Jake Arrieta. In these three plate appearances he hit a solo home run and drew a pair of walks. So far in his career Bell has faced Arrieta four times, and he is now 2-for-2 with a home run and two walks.
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Overall on the night Josh Bell went 1-for-2 with two walks and a solo home run. Through his first 37 career plate appearances Josh Bell know owns a 24.3 percent walk rate, .541 on-base percentage, .701 slugging percentage, .509 wOBA, and a 227 wRC+.
The plate presence and patience that Josh Bell continues to show is incredible. Josh Bell looks like a seasoned veteran at the plate, not a guy with 37 career plate appearances. Josh Bell is well on his way to becoming one of the biggest threats in the Pirates’ lineup.
Right fielder Gregory Polanco – Gregory Polanco had just one hit in Monday night’s game. However, his lone hit was, both figuratively and literally, a big one. This is due to the fact that Polanco’s one hit gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a lead that they would, unfortunately, relinquish.
In the top of the sixth inning Gregory Polanco stepped to the plate with two outs. When Polanco stepped to the plate Josh Harrison was on second base and Josh Bell on first. While the Pirates were trailing at the start of Polanco’s at bat, that would change by the end of his at bat.
Gregory Polanco drove a Jake Arrieta fastball over the left field wall for an opposite field for a go ahead three-run home run. This home run was Polanco’s 21st of the season, and gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead. Unfortunately, the Pirates could not hold this lead.
Second baseman Josh Harrison – The Pittsburgh Pirates spark plug did it all on Monday night. Harrison played great defense, as well as playing a huge role at the plate. Monday night was a great example of #JhayAllDay.
At the plate on Monday night Harrison went 3-for-6 with a double, a sacrifice fly, three RBIs, a run scored, and his 19th stolen base of the season. Harrison had what was at the time arguably the biggest hit in Monday night’s game. This came in the top of the seventh inning. With two men on base, two outs, and the Pirates leading 4-3 Harrison ripped a two-run double to make it 6-3 Bucs.
With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the sixth inning Josh Harrison made a fantastic play to rob Dexter Fowler of a hit. Flower blooped a ball to very shallow right field. However, Harrison was able to make a running, tumbling catch to rob Fowler of a two-out single.
Then in the top of the 13th inning, Harrison came to the plate with the bases loaded and just one out. Harrison hit a line drive to Chicago left fielder Jorge Soler, and this brought home a run. On the fly out David Freese would tag and score to give the Pirates a 7-6 lead. Unfortunately, this would not be enough for the Bucs.
Starting pitcher Steven Brault – On Monday night Steven Brault made his third career Major a League start. Brault was victimized by some poor defense on Monday night. However, he was the one who committed some of this poor defense.
Steven Brault lasted just four innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night. In those four innings pitched Brault allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks. However, Brault did flash some good things with four strikeouts and a 50 percent ground ball rate.
The unearned run that Brault allowed was his doing. In the bottom of the first inning with Dexter Fowler on first and no one out Kris Bryant hit an easy double play ball back to Brault. However, Brault rushed his throw and threw the ball into center field. Due to this error, the Cubs had runners on the corners with no one out and would score a run that inning that otherwise would not have scored.
All in all, Steven Brault showed some good stuff on Monday night. He needs to pitch more efficiently and throw more strikes. However, he has a future in the Major Leagues. Even if it is as a left-handed reliever.
Catcher Francisco Cervelli – While Francisco Cervelli did drew a walk on Monday night, he had a night to forget. Outside of this walk Cervelli was 1-for-4 at the plate. And, worst of all, he stranded three base runners.
In the top of the fourth inning Cervelli came to the plate with Starling Marte on third base with just one out and the infield back. Cervelli grounded out to pitcher Jake Arrieta, though, and no run scored. Then in the top of the seventh Cervelli flew out to right field with two men on base. And this fly out ended the inning.
Relief pitcher Neftali Feliz – The recent struggles of Feliz continued on Monday night. In the bottom of the eighth inning Feliz inherited a 6-3 lead. While Feliz was able to hold this lead, he did not make it easy.
Neftali Feliz would allow Jason Heyward to reach base to start the inning and this was followed by a two-run home run by Willson Contreras to cut the Pirates’ lead to 6-5. Feliz would then give up a double to Javier Baez. After back-to-back strikeouts of Matt Szczur and Dexter Fowler Feliz would walk Kris Bryant. Feliz then struck out Anthony Rizzo to end the inning with the Pirates leading 6-5.
Dating back to July 30th Feliz has a 6.23 FIP, 4.65 xFIP, he’s averaging 2.08 HR/9, and 6.23 BB/9 in 13 innings pitched. And this was before tonight’s disaster outing. Right now, there is something very wrong with Neftali Feliz. And if they Pittsburgh Pirates are going to make the postseason they need to fix it.
Next: Pirates Need To Avoid Sweep
Monday night’s loss was incredibly frustrating. Three of the Cubs’ seven runs scored due to poor Pirate defense. Furthermore, the usually reliable Pirate bullpen blew a lead. First it was Neftali Feliz allowing two runs while ahead 6-3 in the eighth, and then Tony Watson allowing a game tying home run to Jorge Soler with one out in the ninth.
Game two between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs is Tuesday night at 8:05 PM. The Pirates will send Chad Kuhl to the mound, and the Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks. Hopefully, the Bucs can get back to their winning ways on Tuesday night.