PITTSBURGH — The Cubs returned to action tonight to cap off their series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, hopefully finishing off with a win and the series sweep. Tonight’s game featured a great pitching match-up between Jon Lester (0-0) and Tyler Glasnow (0-1).
Josh Harrison wasted no time re-introducing himself to Lester, sending a lead-off home run to left field in the first inning. Francisco Cervelli then doubled to left, scoring Gregory Polanco who reached on an infield single. The Pirates seemed to jump all over Lester in the first, giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead heading into the second.
In the second, the Cubs continued their method of scoring runs in unorthodox ways; Anthony Rizzo picked up an RBI on a hit-by-pitch, scoring Javier Baez. But the Pirates would only continue to pour on the runs in the bottom half of the second. Phil Gosselin doubled to left, scoring Josh Bell. Gosselin then scored on a missed catch by catcher Willson Contreras, a truly unique play. And McCutchen capped off the scoring by also doubling to deep right, scoring Josh Harrison from second base. Heading into the third inning, the Pirates were all over the Cubs, 5-1.
In the fourth, John Jay lead-off the inning with a walk. Kris Bryant then doubled to deep left, scoring Jay from first, making the lead 5-2. In a surprising move, Glasnow was removed from the game after facing Bryant, replaced by reliever Wade Leblanc. Rizzo then singled to center, scoring Bryant. I’m sensing a reemergence from the “Comeback Cubs.” Again, I coined the term and it’s copyrighted, so don’t get any ideas.
Lester settled down and pitched three straight scoreless frames after giving up some early runs in the opening two innings. In the sixth, however, Josh Bell homered off Lester, consequently ending his night after 107 pitches. Pedro Strop relieved Lester and immediately walked the bases loaded, although two of those base runners are attached to Lester. But Strop would then strike out McCutchen, ending the inning.
In the seventh, Mike Montgomery replaced Pedro Strop and held the Bucs scoreless. I don’t want to say I called it (I will), but in the top of the eighth Rizzo homered off pitcher Daniel Hudson, scoring Bryant, putting the Cubs within one. Heading into the bottom half of the inning, the Cubs trailed 6-5.
In the ninth, closer Tony Watson appeared looking to keep the Cubs at bay and close out the series with a much needed Pirates win. The Cubs managed to create some drama, but Albert Almora Jr. eventually grounded into a double play, ending the game.
Kris Bryant: 3-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Anthony Rizzo: 2-4, 2R-HR, 4 RBI
Josh Harrison: 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI
Josh Bell: 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI
The Cubs, regardless of the outcome tonight still earned a much needed series win. Last week’s struggles seem distant, if not gone for good. The Cubs also showed their resilience tonight, battling back from an early 5-1 deficit. You have to love the heart of this ball club.
Jon Lester, who had a seemingly unnatural outing his last start, struggled early on today. Giving up 5 runs in the first two innings is uncommon for the southpaw, but he managed to settle down as the game progressed.
The Cubs have an off-day tomorrow but return to action on Friday in Boston to take on the Red Sox. Can you ask for a more historical match-up heading into the weekend? The series also is a potential World Series match-up, making the series more entertaining.
First Pitch: 6:10 PM (CT)
TV: CSN-Chicago, MLB-Network
Radio: 670 The Score