The Pirates upset the division rival Cubs in the opening game of the series on Friday night. Multiple young Pirates players were involved in the spectacular walk off victory.
Friday night for the Pirates showcased a inter-division match up against the rival Chicago Cubs. Going into Friday night, the Pirates held a record of 50-70 and the Cubs held a record of 64-57. To start the weekend series, the Pirates sent Joe Musgrove to the mound to face Kyle Hendricks of Chicago.
Hendricks is a formidable opponent…but only when he is pitching at home and not against the Pirates. Hendricks owns a 3.48 ERA on the year, but has a 5.16 ERA on the road and hasn’t recorded a win against the Pirates in his last five starts. Musgrove entered the game with a 4.71 ERA and desperately needed a win under his belt after a few disastrous starts.
Surprisingly, the first three and a half innings of the game featured an impressive pitching duel. It certainty appeared like both Musgrove and Hendricks had quality pitches and decent control. The Pirates broke the pitching standoff in the bottom of the 4th to score first with a Starling Marte single, a stolen base, and a Colin Moran single.
After the fourth inning, the game really was put on cruise control. The Pirates would hold their 1-0 lead for the majority of the game. Hendricks pitched seven full innings, giving up only three hits and one earned run. Musgrove matched Hendricks pitch for pitch through seven, but did not meet success when he attempted to continue his run into the 8th inning.
Jonathan Lucroy and Ian Happ would both get one out singles for the Cubs in the 8th inning. This would be enough to get Hurdle to switch to the ever reliable Felipe Vazquez. While Vazquez’s score card will not show any runs, the Pirates closer would give up a triple to Tony Kemp. Both of Musgrove’s runs would score and give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. A walk and a double play later, the Pirates would enter the bottom of the 8th down a run.
The Cubs sent out David Phelps to pitch the bottom of the 8th, and Phelps kept the lead for the Cubs. Hurdle countered with Keone Kela in the 9th who pitched another clean inning minus one stray walk. With three outs to go, a one run deficit felt like a lot for a Pirates team that had been quiet at the plate for most of the night. But the team would not go down without a fight.
With one out in the 9th, Bryan Reynolds would start the rally against Cub’s pitcher Kyle Ryan. Ryan was quickly replaced by Brandon Kintzler and things would go downhill quickly for the Cubs. After a Marte ground out, Josh Bell, Moran, and then Cole Tucker all drew walks, with Tucker’s scoring the Pirates the tying run. Kevin Newman then stepped up to the plate and laced a single up the middle for a walk off win.
While the Pirates have looked rough as of late, this win felt great for the club. Having Reynolds, Newman, and Tucker intimately involved in the walk off really brought some hope to the forefront for the 2020 season and beyond. Let’s hope some of these young players an keep up the great play.