Pittsburgh Pirates Rally Late To Finish Off Weekend Sweep Of The Cubs


The Pittsburgh Pirates finished off a weekend sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon

On Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to finish off a sweep of the Chicago Cubs. This game figured to be a pitcher’s duel between two of the best in the National League in Jameson Taillon and Jon Lester, and the pitchers certainly did not disappoint.

Taillon and Lester were both great, but the real story of the game was the resiliency of these young Pittsburgh Pirates. For a second consecutive day, the Pirates earned a come from behind win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. This win capped off a weekend sweep of the Cubs and improved the Pirates to 6-6 on the season.

Through the game’s first 6 innings, there was not much offense. Both starting pitchers had held the opposing team scoreless and, to be honest, neither team had generated many scoring chances either.

The game entered the bottom of the 7th inning tied at zero. Jason Heyward singled to lead off the inning, but then Willson Contreras hit what looked like would be a double play ball. However, the ball took an odd hop which caused Jordy Mercer to bobble it and fail to field the ball.

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Mercer was charged with an error, and the Cubs had men on first and second with no one out. This brought pinch hitter Tommy LaStella to the plate. LaStella hit a line drive to left field that should have been caught. But after taking a bad route to the ball that forced him to dive, the ball would clank off the glove of left fielder Adam Fraizer.

All of a sudden the Cubs had a 1-0 lead and runners on second and third with no one out. Jameson Taillon would then do a fantastic job of pitching out of this jam. He got Javier Baez to ground out into a drawn-in infield, he walked Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant hit into a fielder’s choice, and then Anthony Rizzo popped out to end the inning.

While the Cubs had taken a 1-0 lead after 7 innings, things could have been much worse if not for some great work by Taillon. In 7 innings pitched, Taillon wound up allowing just the 1 unearned run on 7 hits, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts.

In the top of the 8th inning, the Battling Bucs would finally break through. Koji Uehara relieved Jon Lester, who pitched 7 scoreless innings, and he started the inning by walking John Jaso. Adam Frazier doubled, Josh Bell walked to load the bases, and then Jordy Mercer hit a bloop singled to tie the game at 1.

Uehara was then lifted for Hector Rondon. Rondon got Starling Marte to ground out to Javier Baez, who threw Frazier out at the plate. Then with one out and the bases loaded, Andrew McCutchen grounded out to Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo threw home and the throw beat pinch runner Alen Hanson, however, Willson Contreras’s foot came off the plate.

Apr 16, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Alen Hanson (37) slides in safely at home with Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) taking the throw during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Alen Hanson (37) slides in safely at home with Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) taking the throw during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

As a result, Hanson was safe and the Pirates took a 2-1 lead. Additionally, they still had the bases loaded with just one out. David Freese then flew out to shallow right field and it did not appear as if it would score a run. However, Jason Heyward made a very poor throw from right field that got away from Contreras. This allowed Jordy Mercer to come rushing home from third base and made it 3-1 Pirates.

While the throw by Heyward was inexcusably bad, Jordy Mercer deserves a lot of credit on the play. He knew he could not tag a score on the play, but after tagging up still went halfway to the plate. At this point, he remained alert and was in a position to take advantage of the Heyward error.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Clint Hurdle gave the ball to Felipe Rivero. Rivero struck out Ben Zobrist, got Addison Russell to ground out to shortstop, and he got Jason Heyward to ground out to third base. This kept the score at 3-1 Pirates after 8 innings of play.

Josh Harrison was hit by a Justin Grimm pitch to lead off the top of the 9th inning, this was the second time in the game Harrison was hit by a pitch. Harrison then stole second base, before John Jaso drew his second walk of the game.

Ball four to Jaso doubled as a wild pitch, which allowed Harrison to go to third. This gave the Bucs runners on the corners with no one out. Adam Frazier then blasted a 3-run home run to straightaway center field to extend the Bucs lead to 6-1.

Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl then pinch hit for the Pirates and had a hell of an at-bat drawing an eight-pitch walk. Jordy Mercer then hit into a double play and Starling Marte struck out to end the inning.

Wade LeBlanc pitched the bottom of the 9th inning for the Pirates. LeBlanc put the Cubs down in order to secure the 6-1 Pirate victory.

Next: A Deeper Look At Glasnow's Second Start

While it is still too early in the season to make many, if any, conclusions about the 2017 season there is no doubt that this series was a statement one for the Bucs. The team came into this series losers of four consecutive games, which included being swept at home by the Cincinnati Reds.

Many Pirate fans were ready to throw in the towel on the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates already, but, luckily, the team had other ideas. And the team did it by showing the defending division, and World Series, champions that they are not going away in 2017.

The Pirates were able to sweep the defending World Series Champion Cubs at Wrigley Field. Their sweep included back-to-back come from behind victories on Saturday and Sunday. This was the Pirates first series victory at Wrigley Field since September of 2015 and first sweep at Wrigley since September of 2014.

Tomorrow night, the Pittsburgh Pirates start a three-game series with the last-place St. Louis Cardinals. Ivan Nova will start for the Pirates, while the Red Birds will go with Lance Lynn. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.