The Pittsburgh Pirates still know how to win baseball games, yay!
The Pittsburgh Pirates entered Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs in desperate need of a victory. Led by Joe Musgrove, the Pirates would get exactly what they need. After their 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night the Bucs are now 29-26 this season.
In a night that saw emotions erupt between two teams that do not like each other, the Pirates also took a stand against the Cubs and their antics on Wednesday night. As he was for most things throughout the night, Musgrove was at the center of this as well.
An Albert Almora Jr. double and a Javier Baez single – on which he took second base due to a poor throwing decision by Gregory Polanco – gave the Cubs a quick 1-0 lead with a man on second and no one out in the top of the 1st inning. Much to his credit, Pirate starting pitcher Joe Musgrove would then hunker down and get to work.
After getting a pop out Musgrove issued back-to-back walks, one of which was intentional, to load the bases with just one out. However, he then struck out Kyle Schwarber looking and Addison Russell swinging to end the inning.
Just as the Cubs struck quickly in the top half of the 1st inning, the Pirates would in the bottom half of the inning. Josh Harrison led the game off with his 6th career leadoff home run to tie the game at 1.
The emotions that had been brewing between these two teams the past few days finally spilled over in the bottom of the 3rd inning.
With Musgrove on first base, Harrison grounded out to third. Baez failed to turn the double play due to a good, hard, and clean slide by Musgrove. As Musgrove was walking off the field Baez said something to him, Musgrove then yelled back causes the benches and bullpens to empty onto the field at PNC Park.
Russell singled to start the top of the 4th inning and Jason Heyward walked. This seemingly put the Cubs in a great position to at least tie the game. Musgrove, however, had other ideas. He would pick off Russell at second base, strikeout his counterpart Kyle Hendricks, and then got Almroa Jr. to fly out to end the inning.
The bottom half of the 4th inning saw the Pirates return the favor when it comes to making outs on the bases.
After a leadoff single by Josh Bell, Dickerson grounded out to Russell. A throwing error by Russell cost the Cubs a double play and allowed Dickerson to advance to second base. Colin Moran then singled to right field and Joey Cora waved Dickerson home.
With just one out, there was no reason to test the strong throwing arm of Heyward in right field on a ball that got to him quickly. Cora did though, leading to Dickerson getting thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning.
Jordy Mercer singled to start the bottom of the 5th inning. After advancing to second base on a Musgrove bunt, he got to third on a base hit by Harrison. Thanks to a poor throw from the outfield by Almora Jr., Harrison took second base leading to an intentional walk to Austin Meadows to load the bases.
With Francisco Cervelli stepping to the plate the Pirates looked ready to extend their lead. Unfortunately, their now two week long struggle with runners in scoring position would continue. Cervelli popped up on the infield and then Bell grounded out to second base and was retired on a nice stop by Baez and stretch by Anthony Rizzo at first base to end the inning.
Musgrove did not get in many jams after the 1st inning and 4th innings, but one came with two outs in the top of the 6th inning. After an infield hit by Russell and a ground ball hit into left field by Heyward, the Cubs had the tying run just 90 feet away. Pinch hitter Tommy La Stella would ground out to first base though, to end the inning.
For the second time in as many Pirate starts Musgrove went 7 strong innings. After tossing 7 shutout innings against the Cardinals in his debut, he allowed just 1 run against the formidable Cubs lineup on Wednesday night.
Musgrove was not overly sharp on Wednesday night as he issued a quartet of walks, but he was able to pitch around the base runners the Cubs got. Musgrove also had a base hit, a sacrifice bunt, he picked a runner off second base, and he made primadonna Baez really mad which was cool. And, maybe best of all, he became the first Pirate since Tony Watson in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game to not back down to the Cubs bully attitude but instead took a stand.
In two Pirate starts, Musgrove has allowed just 1 run on 12 hits, no home runs, 4 walks, and 12 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched. That’ll do, Joe, that’ll do.
The bottom of the 7th inning saw the Pirates waste yet another opportunity to extend their lead. After Adam Frazier drew a pinch hit walk, Meadows walked, and Justin Wilson committed a balk the Pirates had runners on second and third with two outs. However, Wilson was able to get Cervelli to fly out to end the inning.
With the recent struggles of Michael Feliz, manager Clint Hurdle went with Kyle Crick to try and protect a one-run lead in the top of the 8th inning. Crick would reward Hurdle’s faith by pitching a 1-2-3 inning.
In the top of the 9th inning it was Felipe Vazquez time. Vazquez entered this outing on the heels of a 1-2-3 9th inning on Tuesday night, however, he had blown his previous three save opportunities. Despite allowing a pair of base hits that were nothing more than bad luck, Felipe slammed the door on the Cubs to close out the 2-1 victory for the Pirates.
Wednesday night’s game was one of the best wins of the season for the Pirates. It was a feel good victory that the team desperately needed. Hopefully, this win can help start to get the team back on track.
Next up for the Pirates is a Thursday night meeting with the St. Louis Cardinals. First pitch in game one of the four-game series is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. from Bush Stadium. Trevor Williams will start for the Pirates while the Cards plan to send Jack Flaherty to the mound in a rematch of last Saturday’s 4-1 Cardinal victory.