CHICAGO – What’s better than afternoon baseball at Wrigley Field? Okay, don’t answer that, I’m sure there are some things better. Actually, the question was rhetorical. The Cubs returned to action today, taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. Today’s game featured an awesome pitching match-up between Cy Young runner-up’s Gerrit Cole (0-1) and Kyle Hendricks (1-0).
David Freese got things going for the Pirates in the second, doubling to deep right, scoring Gregory Polanco. Just from watching Polanco on the base path, it was evident the Pirates had one intention when they got on base – run. It’s important to note that Miguel Montero got the start behind home plate today, a strong possibility why the Pirates were looking to steal with every opportunity.
The Cubs would tie things up in the fourth due to a Ben Zobrist single following a Kris Bryant double. Bryant seems to be settling down at the plate, after starting off the season with a long hit-less streak. His average now stands at .237 after his fourth inning double. (Don’t fact check me, his average will change throughout the rest of this game) In the very next inning, Kyle Schwarber put the Cubs ahead 2-1 with a one-out single. Jay Baez recorded the run, following a double of his own.
But the Pirates would do some damage of their own in the top half of the sixth. Kyle Hendricks was relieved in the sixth by Justin Grimm, ending his second start of the year. His stats on the day looked a little like this: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3R/3ER, 2 BB, 3 K. Freese tied the game up, following a long 12-pitch at-bat that resulted in an RBI single. Andrew McCutchen scored on the single, tying the game 2-2. Francisco Cervelli then doubled to deep right, clearing the bases, allowing the Pirates to jump ahead 4-2.
Cubs reliever Brian Duensing made his first appearance on the year in the seventh, pitching a scoreless inning. Duensing just returned from the Disabled List to give the Cubs another southpaw in the pen. Wade LeBlanc relieved Cole in the seventh, putting Cole in line for his first win on the year.
Mike Glennon, the new quarterback of the Chicago Bears, sang the seventh inning stretch quite nicely for a guy who looks like he has no musical range, talent, pitch, etc. Hopefully he plays like he sings – averagely.
The bottom of the eighth brought on a nice amount of scoring drama for the Cubs. After two walks by Anthony Rizzo and Bryant, Ben Zobrist stepped to the plate looking to do some damage. Felipe Rivero had other plans in mind, however, striking out Zobrist in a lengthy duel. Jason Heyward singled to second base to load the bases, setting up an epic at-bat for pinch hitter Willson Contreras. But Rivero would force Contreras to easily ground out to third base, ending the threat.
Closer Tony Watson pitched the ninth inning, getting himself out of a bases loaded jam to pick up his third save on the season.
Kyle Schwarber: 1-4, RBI, BB
Gerrit Cole: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2R/2ER, 1 BB, 5 K
David Freese: 3-4, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI
Brian Duensing returned to the majors today following a short stint on the disabled list. With Duensing back, the Cubs now have another lefty who can create tough match-up’s for any opponent.
The Cubs had many opportunities to score today, but ultimately couldn’t get runners across home plate. The eighth and ninth innings featured the Cubs failure to score with bases loaded. The Cubs have had a history of struggling to score runners in scoring position and today brought back flashes of 2015.
The Cubs return to action tomorrow to continue their series against their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The pitching match-up looks a little something like this: Jake Arrieta (2-0) vs. Tyler Glasnow (0-1).
First Pitch: 1:20 PM (CT)
Radio: 670 The Score