The Pittsburgh Pirates will enter the final series of the season one win short of a winning season
After winning the first two games of their four-game series against the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to win either of the final two games of the series and wound up with a series split. This split comes after a 3-0 loss against the Cubs on Thursday night.
Following the loss, the Pirates will finish the 2018 season with a respectable 9-10 record against the Cubs. The Bucs are now 80-78 overall this season and remain one win shy of clinching a winning record for 2018.
Early on, the Pirates had plenty of opportunities to score off of Jon Lester.
Pablo Reyes singled to start the game, Starling Marte followed with a walk, and Francisco Cervelli drew a walk with one out. With the bases loaded and one out, Jose Osuna faced a 1-0 count. The following pitch from Lester was well off the plate but called a strike by home plate umpire Jim Wolf. This call stole Osuna’s at bat and changed the entire course of the inning.
When the count got to 2-2, Lester threw the same pitch to Osuna that he did 1-0. Despite it being well off the plate, Osuna was forced to swing at the pitch. Osuna swung and missed for the second out of the inning. Josh Harrison then grounded out to end the inning.
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The Pirates wasted another opportunity when Colin Moran doubled to start the top of the 2nd inning and was stranded on the bases. They also got a man in scoring position in the 3rd and 4th innings without scoring.
As the Pirate offense wasted scoring opportunities, in the bottom of the 2nd inning, it was the Cubs that struck first.
Leading off the inning Kyle Schwarber hit a routine fly ball to center field. For whatever reason, Marte completely missed the ball and let it drop in for a base hit. After a weakly hit Ian Happ single, Trevor Williams got back-to-back strikeouts and was on the brink of getting out of a jam he did not completely create.
However, with two outs, David Bote tucked a ball inside the third base line. After the ball rattled around in the left field corner, Bote had a two-run triple and the Cubs owned a 2-0 lead.
Although the Cubs did all they could to prevent it, their lead would grow in the bottom of the 4th inning.
Happ walked to start the inning, but was erased when he was caught trying to steal second base. After doubling, Willson Contreras was thrown out at the plate by Reyes trying to score on a hit by Lester.
With two outs Williams appeared to have a chance to escape the jam, but after issuing a walk, Daniel Murphy ripped a single to center field off of Williams. This base hit scored Lester and made the score 3-0 Cubs.
In his final start of the season, Williams turned in his first poor start since late June. In 5 innings of work Williams allowed eight hits, three runs, he walked three, and struck out four. Despite it being a poor start, it capped off an excellent 2018 season for Williams. In 31 starts this season, Williams finished with a 3.11 ERA and a 3.86 FIP.
Facing Carl Edwards Jr., Marte walked to start the inning and Josh Bell reached on an error by Bote. However, Edwards picked his fielder up by getting Cervelli to hit into a double play. Edwards Jr. then retired Osuna to end the inning, and the Pirates had wasted another scoring opportunity.
On Friday night the Pirates will begin their final series of the season when they battle the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. The first game of the three-game series is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. and will feature a pitching matchup of Nick Kingham (5.23 ERA, 5.55 FIP) and Anthony DeSclafani (4.91 ERA, 4.87 FIP). The Pirates enter this series needed just one win to finish the 2018 season with a winning record.