Pittsburgh Pirates Bats Wake Up Too Late In 6-3 Loss to Cubs

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates bats couldn’t manage a late inning rally, leading to a 6-3 loss vs the Cubs on Friday night.

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost the first game of a three game series vs the Chicago Cubs on Friday. The bats showed up too late, and the bullpen struggled too much, which led to the Pirates losing 6-3 after making a late game push. Let’s breakdown Friday night’s game.

The Pitching

Trevor Williams got the start today, and got off to a solid start. In his first 2 innings, he struck out three batters, including some of the Cubs’ heavier hitters in Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Jason Kipnis. In the third inning, Williams ran into a bit of trouble. After striking out Ian Happ, Williams allowed Kris Bryant to reach base on a free pass, and then hit Rizzo with a pitch in the leg.

With two on and only one out, 2018 National League MVP runner up Javier Baez put down a drag bunt. Williams picked up the ball and probably should have put it in his back pocket, but instead threw it past the first baseman Josh Bell, allowing Bryant to score an unearned run. After that, Williams got Kyle Schwarber and Contreras down on strikes.

Williams allowed his first earned run of the day after Jason Kipnis hit a long ball off of the right hander in the 4th. However the wheels started to fall off in the fifth. Williams walked both Bryant and Rizzo to start the inning. But Gold Glove finalist Jacob Stallings caught Rizzo sleeping, and picked him off of first base. Williams then got Baez to fly out to the Pirates’ right fielder Cole Tucker.

With righty killer Schwarber stepping to the plate, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton went to Nik Turley. However, Turley walked both Schwarber and Contreras on full counts. That brought Cubs’ right fielder Jason Heyward up to the plate with the bases loaded and two out. On an 0-2 pitch, Heyward slapped a single to right field scoring two runs. Turley got out of the inning getting Victor Caritini to strike out, but the damage had been done. Williams’ final line was 4.2 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, three walks, but an impressive six strikeouts.

After Turley, right hander Geoff Hartlieb came in for the next 1.1 innings. While he did show some really impressive movement with his sinker, he had to dance through the rain drops as he gave up three hits. Harlieb gave away to lefty Miguel Del Pozo who retired the last two batters of the 7th inning.

Del Pozo pitched into the 8th inning, but the control issues started to show as the southpaw walked Jason Kipnis, and allowed Ian Happ to reach base on a 2-0 single. Del Pozo was pulled for Dovydas Neverauskas.

On Neverauskas’ second pitch, he loaded the bases by giving up a single to Bryant. Rizzo then drove in two more on a single to left field. Neverauskas got out of the inning after getting Baez to bounce out to him, getting the out at home, and then getting Contreras to bounce into a double play.

The Offense

The Pittsburgh Pirates bats looked much like they did on Wednesday against the Brewers. The Pirates only had two hits going into the eighth inning. The eighth inning however, the bats started to show some semblance of life.

Although it was short lived, it still produced a run for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Designated hitter Gregory Polanco started the inning off with a double to right field. He was almost stranded as Cole Tucker struck out and Jacob Stallings flew out. However, center fielder Jarod Dyson hit a ball through the right side of the infield, scoring the only run of the game for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It looked like this might have sparked a late game rally as after Dyson, Adam Frazier lined a ball into left field, but the rally was quickly snuffed out after Kevin Newman lined out to Heyward.

The Pirates made one final push in the 9th inning. With Craig Kimbrel in, Josh Bell and Colin Moran both teed off vs the former Braves’ dominant 9th inning man, going back-to-back. This was Bell’s first long ball of the year and Moran’s 4th of the year. However, Kimbrel was able to get Reynolds, Polanco and Tucker out, albeit on very hard hit balls for all three.

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What’s Next?

The Pittsburgh Pirates will play the Cubs again tomorrow at 8:15 PM Eastern time. Rookie Mitch Keller will take the hill after going 5 solid innings vs the Cardinals on Sunday. He’ll face off against Tyler Chatwood who had major control issues last year, but went 6 strong vs the Brewers on Sunday as well.