Pittsburgh Pirates Pummel Chicago Cubs, Roll Into All-Star Break

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 09: Andrew McCutchen
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 09: Andrew McCutchen /

The Pittsburgh Pirates are rolling into the All-Star Break

On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates pummeled the Chicago Cubs by a score of 14-3. The Pirates jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning and never looked back. With the victory, the Pirates capped off a series victory over the Cubs this weekend.

After pummeling the Cubs on Sunday the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 42-47 this season. This includes being 7-5 against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. The victory also capped off a 5-2 road trip for the Bucs heading into this week’s All-Star Break.

Jameson Taillon was originally scheduled to start for the Pirates on Sunday afternoon. However, he was scratched just before first pitch due to flu-like symptoms. This led to Chad Kuhl starting on just 2 days rest and almost zero notice.

Luckily for Kuhl, after the top of the 1st inning, he did not have much to worry about. This was due to the Pittsburgh Pirates bombarding Cubs’ starter Jon Lester for 10 runs in the top half of the 1st inning.

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Josh Harrison singled to start the game, with 1 out Andrew McCutchen walked, and David Freese reached on an error to load the bases. Josh Bell delivered a single to make it 1-0 Pirates, and then Jose Osuna hit a double to expand the Pirate lead to 3-0.

This brought Jordy Mercer to the plate with runners on second and third with just 1 out. Mercer delivered a 2-run single and made it 5-0 Pirates. After Max Moroff walked, Chad Kuhl laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Harrison walked, the bases were loaded with 2 outs.

Francisco Cervelli would step to the plate with 2 outs and the bases loaded and promptly unload them. Cervelli launched his 4th home run of the season in grand fashion to make it 9-0 Pirates. Andrew McCutchen then hit his 16th home run of the season to make it 10-0 Pirates.

McCutchen’s home run chased Jon Lester from the game. In the worst start of his Major League career Lester allowed 10 runs on 6 hits, 3 walks, 2 home runs, and zero strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning pitched.

Mike Montgomery would replace Lester with 2 outs in the top of the 1st inning. He proceeded to walk Freese and allow a single to Bell before retiring Osuna on a fly out to center field to finally end the top of the 1st inning.

A big tip of the cap on Sunday goes to Chad Kuhl. He was forced into a very difficult situation on Sunday afternoon and did a fine job for the Pirates.

CHICAGO, IL – JULY 09: Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl
CHICAGO, IL – JULY 09: Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl /

Kuhl pitched 3 innings on Sunday and allowed 1 run on 2 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Considering he was pitching on 2 days rest and almost zero notice on Sunday anything other than a total meltdown from Kuhl would have been great for the Pirates, and he gave the team 3 strong innings.

In the top of the 4th inning, the Pirates lead would grow to 12-1. Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning to make it 11-1 Pirates. Then, Francisco Cervelli would single home Mercer to make it 12-1.

Wade LeBlanc would pitch the 4th inning for the Pirates. Despite loading the bases on a base hit and a pair of walks, LeBlanc got out of it unscored upon. This kept the score at 12-1 Pittsburgh through 4 innings.

After LeBlanc, A.J. Schugel made his 2017 debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 3 innings of work, Schugel looked like the solid relief pitcher that he was in 2016 for the Bucs. He allowed 1 run on 4 hits, zero walks, and he struck a batter out.

A.J. Schugel was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis yesterday after Antonio Bastardo was designated for assignment. In 2016 Schugel was one of the Pirates’ best relief pitchers. Hopefully, Sunday was a sign of him rekindling this success for the rest of 2017.

The final 2 Pirate runs of the game came courtesy of Josh Harrison. He singled home Jordy Mercer in the 7th inning to make it 13-2 Pirates, then in the top of the 9th he hit his 10th home run of the season to make it 14-2 Bucs.

Jhan Marinez pitched the 8th and 9th innings for the Pirates. After pitching a scoreless bottom of the 8th inning, Marinez allowed a run with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning to set the final at 14-3 Pirates.

Next: Luis Escobar Pitches in the Futures Game

Sunday’s victory was a great one for the Pittsburgh Pirates for so many reasons. It capped off a series victory over a division rival, it came despite losing their starting pitcher just before first pitch, and it was a game where the Bucs cruised to an easy victory. This is the type of win that can really catapult the team into their final 73 games after the All-Star Break.

After the All-Star Break, the Pittsburgh Pirates will resume play on Friday night. The Bucs will host the St. Louis Cardinals at 7:05 at PNC Park. This series will start a vital stretch for the Bucs prior to the trade deadline if they wish to remain in contention in the National League Central race.