Cooled Off

Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 2 Pirates 3
WP – Matt Capps (2-0) LP – Michael Wuertz (0-1) Save – Salomon Torres (8)

The Pirates were able to snap the Cubs mini 3-game winning streak with a come from behind win on Monday night in Pittsburgh. Rich Hill gave up just 2 runs in 7 innings of work but the offense could not add to the 2-1 lead in the 7th. The Pirates tied the game with Hill on the mound in the bottom the 7th and Jason Bay’s home run off of Michael Wuertz in the 8th was the difference in the game. Jack Wilson put on a clinic at shortstop for the Pirates as the Bucs evened their April record at 12-12.

Rich Hill gave Lou Piniella another quality start and even hit a double at the plate. But in the end it was the Cubs inability to win another close game and on the season they are 1-9 in games decided by 2 runs or less. The Cubs finished a disappointing April with a 10-14 record.

Rich Hill had given up just 1 run on 5 hits on 79 pitches at the start of the bottom of the 7th….with the bottom of the lineup due up for the Pirates. After a first pitch strike to Jose Bautista, he ended up giving up his first walk of the game. Hill struck out Adam LaRoche but Ronny Paulino doubled to left center with Bautista running on the pitch, and he scored to tie the game. Hill struck out Brad Eldred and Chris Duffy to end the inning. Hill finished the night after giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, walked 1 and struck out 6 on 103 pitches, 64 for strikes.

Hill had several 3-ball counts early in the game but other than that Hill had a very good outing….a major league team cannot expect to win many games when they only score 2 runs. The Cubs have received countless quality starts this month, they have to figure out a way to win close ballgames and take the pressure off the pitching staff. When an offense is not scoring on a regular basis it puts unnecessary pressure on the pitcher to deliver a perfect pitch.

Michael Wuertz retired the first two batters he faced in the 8th but Jason Bay hit the game winning home run to right center….his 100th as a Pirate. The Cubs have the only bullpen in the majors not to post a win this season (0-6) so while their starters have done their part (10-8) the bullpen has yet to give the Cubs enough consistency to win the close ballgames.

The Cubs scored both of their runs in the first two innings….all with 2 outs. Derrek Lee doubled off the right center field wall (just missing a home run) and scored the first run of the game on a single to left by Aramis Ramirez. In the 2nd, Felix Pie singled with 2 outs and scored when Rich Hill singled to left and tried to stretch it into a double. Freddy Sanchez could not handle Bay’s throw from left and Pie scored on the error….Hill was credited with a double.

The Cubs offense had opportunities to add to the lead with the biggest chance coming in the 7th inning….again with 2 outs. Alfonso Soriano singled up the middle, Ryan Theriot walked and Derrek Lee hit an infield single that Jack Wilson made a good play on but LaRoche could not scoop out of the dirt. Jim Tracy pulled Zach Duke for Jonah Bayliss and he was able to get Aramis Ramirez to fly out to left to end the inning. In the 9th, Theriot walked for the 3rd time in the game….with 2 outs but Chris Duffy caught Derrek Lee’s long fly in the gap in right center to end the game.

The Pirates have beaten the Cubs 4 games in a row (dating back to last season) at PNC Park and the Cubs are 0-6 in 1-run games.

Ted Lilly is scheduled to take the hill tomorrow night against Tony Armas. April is over and it is time for the Cubs to turn the page, several players to start hitting and put up a winning streak that totals more than five.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax