Cubs Wrap-Up Wrigley with a ‘W’ – Cubs 4, Pirates 2

Game One Hundred Fifty-Nine – Cubs 4, Pirates 2

WP – Jake Arrieta (4-2) LP – Francisco Liriano (16-8) Save – Kevin Gregg (33)

wflag-pubJake Arrieta notched a quality start in his last outing of the year and Darnell McDonald smacked a three-run homer off Francisco Liriano in the sixth inning as the Cubs beat the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon in the final game of the season at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished the year with a 31-50 mark at home and showed their appreciation to the fan base by tipping to their caps those on hand to watch the final out of the year at the old ballyard.

Jake Arrieta was very good once again and will spend the off-season slotted into the Cubs’ rotation plans for next year. Arrieta walked in the only run he allowed during a laborious third inning. Arrieta pitched around defensive miscues and limited the Pirates to one run on four hits in six innings. Arrieta walked two, hit a batter and struck out one on 84 pitches, 54 for strikes. Arrieta pitched his way out of jams in every inning but the second and Donnie Murphy helped bail him out of a runner on third and no outs in the fourth that kept the game tied at one.

Justin Grimm was lights out in the seventh and Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless eighth. Kevin Gregg allowed an unearned run in the ninth when Jose Tabata tripled in pinch-runner Felix Pie with the Pirates’ second run.

Darnell McDonald (3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI) had a huge day at the plate. McDonald broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with his first home run in a Cubs’ uniform, a three-run shot to the bleachers in left center. McDonald doubled in his first two at bats, did not score either time and made up for a baserunning gaffe in the fourth with his three-run dinger.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) singled in Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) in the first inning. A day after managing 10 singles, five of the Cubs nine hits went for extra bases.

Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a double) had a good day at the plate, but not in the field. Castro was charged with two errors and the second one made things interesting in the ninth and led to the Pirates’ second run.

The Cubs finished the year at Wrigley with a 31-50 record and ended up winning seven of the 19 games against the Pirates (7-12). The Cubs finished their last homestand of the season with a 2-4 record versus the Braves and Pirates.

With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 66-93 on the season with three games left to play.

Starling Marte led off the game with a single to right and swiped second with Neil Walker at the plate. But J.C. Boscan caught a bunt attempt by Walker in foul ground, McCutchen flied out to shallow right and Morneau hit a liner up the middle that Castro knocked down and threw him out at first to end the inning. Arrieta threw eight pitches in the first inning, seven for strikes, and kept the Pirates off the board.

After Starlin Castro struck out swinging, Darwin Barney singled to center and took second when McCutchen bobbled the ball. Barney was given a double and scored when Anthony Rizzo ripped a single into right field. Murphy grounded out to first, Rizzo was forced at second and Murphy took over at first base. Junior Lake was caught looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. The Cubs made Liriano work and it took him 24 pitches, 16 for strikes, to get through the first inning.

After one inning, the Cubs led 1-0.

Jake Arrieta retired the next eight batters he faced and needed only 18 pitches, 14 for strikes, to complete two innings. The Cubs could not cash in a leadoff double by Darnell McDonald in the second inning and the game went to the third with the Cubs up by a run.

Arrieta made quick work of Clint Barmes and Francisco Liriano to start the third. Starling Marte singled to right with two outs, swiped second with Walker at the dish and advanced to third when Walker reached on a swinging bunt to third. Arrieta walked Andrew McCutchen to load the bases.

Arrieta did not get the call on a 2-2 pitch to Morneau and ended up walking him to force in Marte with the tying run. Garrett Jones grounded out to second to end the inning. Arrieta escaped further damage and needed 25 pitches to get through the third inning (43 pitches after three, 28 for strikes).

The Cubs were not able to break the tie in the third after Barney reached on a single to left with one out. A wild pitch with Rizzo at the plate allowed Barney to move up ninety feet. Rizzo smashed a 3-1 pitch back up the middle and off Liriano’s leg. With runners on first and third with one down, Liriano struck out Murphy swinging (3-2 pitch). Rizzo took second and was credited with a stolen base. With Barney at third, Rizzo on second and two outs, Junior Lake popped out to Walker in shallow right for the third out. Liriano escaped the jam but needed 66 pitches, 41 for strikes, to record nine outs.

Pedro Alvarez led off the fourth with a triple to left center. Alvarez smoked a ball past Castro into left center that Lake did not get back into the infield quick enough. Alvarez ended up a third on E6. With the infield in, Sanchez popped out to Castro in shallow center. Clint Barmes smoked a 1-2 pitch toward third. Murphy caught the liner then dove toward third. Murphy tagged the bag with his glove to complete the double play and end the inning. Arrieta threw 53 pitches in four innings, 34 for strikes, and the Cubs ran themselves out of a possible run in the home half.

Darnell McDonald doubled to left center to start the fourth but tried to move up to third when Sweeney rolled a 3-0 pitch out to short. Barmes threw out McDonald and both Boscan and Arrieta struck out swinging to end the inning … 81 pitches for Liriano after four innings, 51 for strikes.

Arrieta retired Liriano on a pop out to third for the first out in the fifth. Starling Marte fell behind 0-2 before Arrieta plunked him with a 1-2 pitch. Marte stole second with McCutchen at the plate after Walker flied out to left. Arrieta jammed McCutchen with a 3-2 pitch and he tapped back to the mound to end the inning. Arrieta threw 67 pitches, 41 for strikes, in five innings.

The Cubs did nothing in the fifth and the game went to the sixth still tied at one.

Justin Morneau led off the sixth with a double to left. Junior Lake tried to make a diving catch, came up short then airmailed his throw to second. Morneau was given a double then moved up to third when Jones grounded out to Rizzo. With the infield in, Alvarez grounded out to Rizzo for the second out. Morneau held and was stranded when Arrieta caught Tony Sanchez looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Donnie Murphy led off the sixth with a single to left. Murphy stole second with Lake at the plate. Junior Lake then walked and put runners on first and second with no outs.

Darnell McDonald pulled a 2-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center … and just like that the Cubs took a 4-1 lead. Sweeney followed and grounded out to first. Liriano hit Boscan but Nate Schierholtz, hitting for Arrieta, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

The Cubs took a 4-1 lead into the seventh.

Justin Grimm retired the side in order in the seventh and Starlin Castro just missed a homer to center in the home half. Castro led off the seventh and launched a 1-0 pitch to deep center off Bryan Morris. The ball hit off the ivy, just missed leaving the park, and he settled for a double. Barney grounded out to first. Morris intentionally walked Rizzo and put two on with one down for Murphy. Morris struck out Murphy swinging. A wild pitch with Lake at the plate allowed Castro and Rizzo to move up ninety feet. But Lake grounded out to third to end the inning.

Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless eighth and the Cubs could not add on in the eighth against Jeanmar Gomez.

Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs up by three runs.

Gregg struck out Pedro Alvarez swinging for the first out in the ninth. Tony Sanchez pulled a 2-1 pitch toward the hole at short. Castro got to the ball, did not field it cleanly and Sanchez reached. Clint Hurdle sent in Felix Pie to run at first. Jose Tabata hit for Clint Barmes and drove a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right center. Pie scored easily and Tabata ended up at third with a triple.

Marlon Byrd hit for Gomez and stepped in representing the tying run. Gregg struck out Byrd swinging then caught Starling Marte looking at a 0-2 pitch to end the game.

The Cubs will spend their final off day of the year in St. Louis on Thursday. The Cubs open a three-game series on Friday with the Cardinals. Travis Wood faces Lance Lynn in the opener with the champagne on ice in the Redbirds’ clubhouse.

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Quote of the Day

"The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money." – Ernie Banks

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  • Tony_Hall

    The price of Free Agency.

    For Shin-Soo Choo’s age 31-35+ seasons…..start at $100M.

    • Ripsnorter1

      It’s what he’s worth; no greed involved. $100 million seems so…..

      They are totally nuts.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Scott “Greedy Bastard” Boras is Choo’s agent.

  • Tony_Hall
    • Tony_Hall
    • cc002600

      interesting articles.

      2 weeks ago I never thought Sveum would be fired, but the momentum seems to moving that way. Would love to see Girardi come back. I know its the Yankees, but you know what ? That team is in trouble. Just look at that old, old roster. Not good. and now Rivera and Pettite are gone. And they aren’t going to spend a ton of money on FA’s, they want to be under luxury cap, and their farm is weak. Girardi is not stupid, he has to see the handwriting on the wall.

      but I still think Sveum comes back for 2014.

      What do you think ? Is Sveum coming back ?

      • cubtex

        Giirardi would be great!

        • TheWrongGuy

          Girardi would be great indeed. Yet I believe Sveum will return for 2014. Maybe its just a pipe-dream of mine. But Girardi and Sveum both have spent time together with the Yank’s. Maybe the 2 could work together Sveum as bench coach for Girardi for the final year of his contract and until Girardi get more familiar with everything back in Chicago. This seems to remove the area most seem to be arguing over/about.
          For what it’s worth I voted for Sveum to be removed and retain Bosio. Even though I am sure if Sveum goes so does Bosio.

          • SirGladiator

            I too would love to see Girardi brought in, but I don’t see why that would mean we’d have to get rid of Bosio. It’s all about results, Bosio has turned horrible pitchers into awesome ones, Sveum has turned awesome hitters into horrible ones. Firing an incompetent guy doesn’t mean you have to fire a high quality guy too, just because he happened to work under the incompetent guy. I say we get Girardi and keep Bosio.

      • Tony_Hall

        I think if they can get Girardi, they will. It is not different then upgrading at a player position. If they can’t, I just don’t see them firing Sveum and doing a coach search.

        It is not different then going into an off-season saying you are going to add the best FA’s available regardless of the cost, you end up with contracts like JH did. But buying off the top shelf, when there is a truly elite talent and overpaying makes sense.

        Changing managers to get one of the best is always a smart thing. I almost believe that they have already talked to Joe or through someone to Joe and know if he is interested or not. If not, they will by Monday morning.

  • Ripsnorter1

    What? Somebody isn’t a Theo worshipper, and his name is not Ripsnorter?

    “It’s not often you see three clinching games in as many days at the same ballpark. But the Cubs reached another mile marker Tuesday by clinching a last-place finish for the first time since 2006. They got to watch the Atlanta Braves celebrate a division title Sunday and the Pittsburgh Pirates at least a wild-card berth Monday.

    How quickly will the on-field misery for players and fans continue? How many more doomed-from-the-start seasons will be endured until somebody besides the opponent is celebrating at Wrigley?

    Feel free to debate the merits of “In Theo We Trust” and “Wait Till Next Year.” But beware of at least a few of the more common myths surrounding this team and this rebuilding process:

    Myth 1: Theo Epstein is an Ivy League genius who’s ahead of the curve among baseball executives when it comes to the latest analytics and new frontiers in competitive advantage.

    Fact: Yes, he’s an Ivy League grad (Yale). And maybe he’s a genius. He often is referred to as the smartest guy in the room by baseball people — albeit ironically by some critics, if sincerely by his close associates.

    But as smart as he and his trusted colleagues are, he and a select few executives haven’t been ahead of the curve for much of the last decade. The so-called “Moneyball” phenomenon has filled front offices coast-to-coast with top-heavy, often Ivy League-educated management teams, each with proprietary information/analysis systems, countless law degrees and Wall Street-caliber cost-to-value management skills.

    Myth 2: The Cubs are a big-market, big-revenue team capable of using their financial muscle to do to the National League Central what the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have done to the American League East for years.

    Fact: The Cubs used to have a significant revenue advantage over the rest of the division and, according to Forbes, were the most profitable team in the majors last year. But new ownership has abdicated that position for four seasons through its highly leveraged purchase (the profitability ranking has as much to do with decreased baseball spending). Chairman Tom Ricketts — who admits debt management is a factor in current baseball spending — has suggested repeatedly that the baseball budget won’t be restored until new ballpark and television revenues are realized, which is likely at least a year away.

    Bottom line: The Cubs are effectively, as one sports economist said, behaving like a “mid-market team.”

    Myth 3: Epstein has done this before successfully.

    Fact: Not even close. He won the World Series twice as the general manager of his hometown Boston Red Sox, in 2004 and 2007, but only after inheriting a 2003 team that had five consecutive winning seasons (the last with 93 wins), two 20-game winners in 2002 (Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe), Jason Varitek behind the plate and Manny Ramirez in the middle of the order. Then David Ortiz fell out of the sky when the Minnesota Twins couldn’t afford to go through arbitration and non-tendered him.

    Even the 2007 team, which featured Epstein acquisitions Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka, along with homegrown Dustin Pedroia and late-season addition Jacoby Ellsbury, likely wouldn’t have won without Ortiz — or Varitek or Ramirez, for that matter.

    Bottom line: The kind of extreme overhaul the Cubs are undergoing is like nothing Epstein has experienced in his baseball career.

    Myth 4: As Ricketts told the Sun-Times this month, “There’s no other way to do it. It’s not like this is genius.”

    Fact: Ricketts is right in the most basic sense about building a strong organization through player development. But sacrificing big-league seasons to rebuild the farm system — by design using free agency to sign buy-low veteran players who can be flipped for prospects during a bad season — is anathema to the premise of major-league competition and charging admission.

    Never mind the argument about spending big on post-prime veterans like the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have — or Epstein’s Red Sox, for that matter. But what if the Cubs had been able to afford to sign international building blocks such as Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes? What would that have made 2014 look like, especially if they had the means to do more than dream this winter about going after 24-year-old Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (20-0, 1.24 ERA, barely a walk per nine innings)?

    Myth 5: This has been a bad two or three years, but it’s no big deal historically for this club. After all, these are the Cubs.

    Fact: Assign whatever higher purpose you like to the early years of the Ricketts and Epstein Eras, but the Cubs have never lost more games in a two-year span than this (194), and they are just two losses short of the three-year franchise low (287 from 1960 to ’62). They weren’t charging an average of $46 per ticket in 1962, either. Even the ’62 equivalent of $6 would get you three bleacher tickets for the All-Star Game that summer at Wrigley Field.”

    Email: [email protected]

    • Ripsnorter1

      Look at Myth #5: the Cubs have always been bad, but the fact is that this is the worst
      two years in their long, illustrious history.


      And folks wonder what I have against Team Theo.

      • Neil

        I posted that yesterday in the recap about the 194 games. Been waiting for you to post this all day.

        Wittenmyer’s report has not been well received and many have questioned what the front office did or did not do to him to provoke this.

        • cubtex

          This is nothing new Neil. He has always been a critic and been vocal about it.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Sorry to keep you waiting, Neil.


      • cc002600

        you know what I think is funny? Theo wins WS in 2007, about 5 years after he took over, and yet a nitwit like Wittenmeyer still can’t give him credit for that. As if the guy before him from 5 years prior still won it for him. LOL
        and oh, “David Ortiz fell out of the sky” ?? You mean the other 29 teams in baseball couldn’t have signed him ?? Right.
        ridiculous article

    • Tony_Hall

      Gordon been anti-Theo for quite awhile, I think he posts on here as Ray.

      • Ripsnorter1


        On the other hand….if the Cubs lose more than 93 games next year….
        they’ll set a NEW RECORD!

      • cubtex

        Haha. Wittenmeyer is a smart man. He knows what’s up!

        • cc002600

          ridiculous article
          is Gordo jealous that he isn’t an Ivy leaguer ?

          • Tony_Hall

            Almost all of his articles are ridiculous anymore.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Myth #4. Gordon, have you seen the free agents available the last couple of years? Which guys could the Cubs have signed that would have made them a winning team? That’s the answer I wanted to see.

  • cubtex

    What a punk Carlos Gomez is! Just saw that highlight after he hit the HR. McCann should have popped him. What a disgrace to the game!

    • CubbyDenCritic

      At least Reed Johnson got one shot in the fight.

      • cubtex

        You better believe Girardi would have. Played against him several times. He is a tough sob and has respect for the game. Players from that era… Kirby Puckett, Tino Martinez,etc. They had respect for the game and played it the right way!

    • Tony_Hall

      I agree, but there is history there. McCann should have stayed back and shut his mouth as his team is in the playoffs and not take the bait from some punk who is going home on Sunday night.

      Payback should be next year, 1st AB Gomez takes against the Braves (and for that matter, other teams could pay him back for being a punk as well)

      • paulcatanese

        And don’t forget Puig , although other teams may have to stand in line after his own teammates.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Questions for this off season for the Cubs, Theo & Ricketts…..
    – Is Dale returning?
    – Is Joe, Mike or Ron be our next manager?
    – Will Cubs resign Navarro?
    – Will Cubs go after big name free agent?
    – Will we have Cubs HOF character mascots in 2014?
    – Is Castro on the decline?
    – Will Olt be the starting third baseman in 2014?
    – Will Rickett’s make peace with the Roof Top Owners?
    – Can Rizzo be this team’s leader?
    – Will Samardzija get a haircut?
    – Will Theo settle for another 90 plus losing season?
    – Will Vizcaino be ready or is he a Bust?
    – Will we ever see BJax or Vitters ever again?
    – Will there ever be a Marla Collins Bobblehead ?
    – Did we see the last of Barney?
    – Can Grimm be our #5 starter?
    – Do we see Koyie Hill one more time?

  • Tony_Hall

    More teams eliminated and a little clearer playoff picture.

    4 days to go, until Game 163

    National League

    Division Winners – Atlanta, Los Angeles
    St. Louis Magic Number is 1

    Wild Card is set with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, just location of game 163 is left to be determined.

    American League
    Division Winners – Boston, Detroit, Oakland

    Wild Card
    1. Tampa Bay 89-69
    2. Cleveland 88-70
    3. Texas 87-71 – (1 GB)

    So a 3 team race, just like it has really been the last few weeks as Kansas City, Baltimore and NY haven’t been close enough for awhile. Texas for as bad as they have been for a month, still have a shot, but Tampa and Cleveland are just playing too good right now to think they will not hold on.

  • jtrain23

    Ahh, I always love a Felix Pie sighting in a story or box score, albeit minimal. It brings back the great memories of the next “Golden Boy” of the Cubs that was going to lead them to relevance. Then, all of the sudden he had a handful of at bats, was out of the plans, and bounced around the league like a pinball struggling to land a spot on any roster. Let’s hope our next big prospects pan out better and the scouting department finally has a clue.