Every fear about if the Pirates could play against the Cubs seem to become a reality tonight in the Pirates 7-2 loss at PNC Park. This was the Pirates best pitching matchup out of any game in this three-game series and probably their best chance at picking up a win…and they looked flat and played a sloppy game.
Gerrit Cole needed to be the ace against the National League’s best team and he was ineffective tonight, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and four walks without even getting out of the 5th inning. We’ve talked about the starters not going six or seven innings this season already—it’s just not a winning formula. You know Cole wasn’t sharp when he walked four batters…when in the hell was the last time Cole walked four batters? Well, he’s only walked four one other time in his career and that was a 7.0 inning start back in 2014. That’s right, Cole didn’t walk four batters in one game all last season. Hopefully this is an aberration and he’s still working on the kinks from his injury and late start to the season.
This game actually started on a nice note when Andrew McCutchen gave the Bucs an early lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. It’s McCutchen’s sixth home run on the season.
The 1-0 lead didn’t last long, however, as the Cubs added two runs in the 3rd inning after what looked like Cole struck out Anthony Rizzo on a questionable ball call. Rizzo ended up doubling in a run and Ben Zobrist added an RBI single to make it 2-1 Cubs. It was 2-1 until the 5th inning when the wheels began to fall off on Cole. With one out, Kris Bryant walked and Rizzo hit his second double of the game putting runners at second and third. Zobrist hit a sac fly to score one and then Cole hit Addison Russell and walked Matt Szczur to load the bases. That was it for Cole, who watched A.J. Schugel come in relief and give up a two-run single to David freaking Ross. The Pirates then fell victims to the damn little league play where they threw down to second to catch a runner stealing only to have the ball thrown away and a run score from third. After the ugly 5th inning, it was 6-1 and five earned runs charged to Cole.
I wish I could say that tomorrow is another game and things are looking up, but tomorrow’s game is against Jake Arrieta in a rematch of the one-game playoff last season when Arrieta blanked the Pirates. Arrieta is 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA against the Bucs. Can’t wait to face that again tomorrow…