The Pittsburgh Pirates come back to win a close one Wednesday night against the Cubs. The 2019 Bucs continue to show that they will fight back and stay in games all the way until the end.
The Pittsburgh Pirates entered Wednesday’s game four games out of first in the NL Central and three games behind the Cubs. They would exit the game closing both of those gaps. Pirates pitcher Chris Archer stepped onto the mound carrying a 5.50 ERA while the opposing Yu Darvish carried a 4.98. By looking at those statistics alone, most would think a slug fest would be the outcome, however, the game ended up featuring balanced offense and pitching.
Archer would start the game off pitching for the home crowd and would immediately strike out the first two batters he faced while inducing a ground out from the number three batter Anthony Rizzo. Darvish would end his first inning also putting up a zero – giving up only a single Starling Marte fast ball over the heart of the plate. Victor Caratini would deposit the pitch over the right center field wall. As discussed by authors on this site in the past, fastball control continues to plague Chris Archer, leading to a high amount of hard hit baseballs.
The game would quiet down until the fourth inning when Archer’s control would strike again. After two walks, Archer would give up a one run single to Addison Russell. A poor throw from Corey Dickerson would move the runners onto second and third base, however, Archer would strike out the next two Cubs to get out of the inning.
The Pirates would respond quickly though with the middle of their lineup in the fourth inning with a Starling Marte and Josh Bell doubles. Melky Cabrera would then step up to the plate and crush a ball to a seat right next to the ball hit by Caratini earlier. The Pirates would end the inning up 3-2.
The game would continue to pick up in pace as the Cubs would respons with a solo home run of their own off the bat of Javier Baez in the top of the 5th. Archer would struggle in this inning, continuing his trend of choosing a seemingly random inning to lose his confidence. While he did manage to escape without giving up the go ahead run, he would run his pitch count up to 95.
Archer’s pitch count would contrast sharply with Darvish’s which sat at only 63 after 5 innings. The high pitch count would lead to the Pirates calling on Michael Feliz in the 6th inning. Feliz would pitch well, allowing only one base runner for the inning. Feliz would be in line for a win after his inning of work as Josh Bell cracked an opposite field home run with one out in the 6th. This would be Bell’s second RBI of the night as he continues to distance himself from the rest of the League in the RBI category.
Feliz would stay in for one out in the 7th and would then be relieved by Francisco Liriano. With Liriano on the mound, a Jung Ho Kang error plus Caritini’s second home run would put the Cubs up 5-4. The Bucs finally cleared Darvish 2 outs into the 7th inning, but Brandon Kintzler would sit down Dickerson to end the inning.
Dovydas Neverauskas would enter in the 8th for the Bucs and pitch a scoreless inning. The Cubs would counter with Pedro Strop who would give up a lead off hit to Marte, but would then follow it up with picking Marte off at first. This would end up costing the Pirates the tying run as Melky would get on base with a double and would attempt to score on a Jose Osuna single. Melky would be thrown out at home.
Richard Rodriguez would keep the score at 5-4 in the top of the 9th, which led once again, to an opportunity for the battling Bucs to come from behind. The battling Bucs were alive and well Wednesday night. Singles from Elias Diaz and Jung Ho Kang would put Diaz on 3rd with one out. Adam Frazier would score Diaz on an infield ground ball that the Cubs threw home. And then with Kang on third, Dickerson would put the Cubs out of their misery with a sacrifice fly.
The Pirates walked it off 6-5.
It is hard to feel satisfied with Archer’s 5 inning and 3 run outing. However, it did keep the Pirates in the game – and sometimes that is all you really need from your starting pitcher.
What’s most important is the Pirates found a way to win. With the victory, the Pirates are now 42-43 this season. This victory also moves them to 3 games out of first place in the NL Central and 2 games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot. This team is far from dead.