Two Big Flies and a Cubs Loss – Cubs 1, Pirates 2

Game One Hundred Forty-Eight – Cubs 1, Pirates 2

WP – Gerrit Cole (8-7) LP – James Russell (1-6) Save – Mark Melancon (15)

The Pirates hit a pair of solo home runs while the Cubs struggled with runners in scoring position again and the Cubs dropped the third game of the series in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead against Gerrit Cole on a double by Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) in the first inning. But Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) was thrown out at the plate after Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) scored. The Cubs managed only three more hits over the next eight innings and left another victory on base. The Cubs were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded six men on base.

Both of the Pirates’ runs scored on a pair of solo home runs, one from Jose Tabata off of Scott Baker in the sixth that tied the game at one and the other came off the bat of Marlon Byrd in the seventh off of James Russell.

The Cubs did not play poorly on Saturday but did squander multiple scoring chances in what turned out to be a pitchers’ duel at PNC Park.

Scott Baker put together another very good outing. Baker tossed five more shutout innings and did not allow his first run of the season until the sixth, a solo homer to Jose Tabata with one out in the inning. Baker’s fastball was a tick higher, on average, than his first outing against the Brewers. Baker kept the Pirates off balance and allowed only two singles the first two times through the lineup. The Pirates squared up Baker rather well in the sixth as his outing was coming to an end.

Scott Baker recorded 11 fly ball outs and only two on the ground on 75 pitches, 64 for strikes, in six innings. Baker received a no decision after allowing one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Baker began his Cubs’ career with 10 1/3 innings of shutout ball.

James Russell was tagged with the loss after serving up the solo homer to Marlon Byrd. Carlos Villanueva, Zac Rosscup and Blake Parker put together scoreless outings after Russell gave up the go ahead run in relief of Scott Baker.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 63-85 on the season.

Starlin Castro led off the game with a single to right (2-1 pitch). Luis Valbuena followed and flied out to McCutchen in deep center (2-1 pitch). Anthony Rizzo walked on four pitches and the Cubs had two on with one down for Schierholtz.

Nate Schierholtz pulled a 1-1 pitch into right center. Castro scored easily as Byrd tracked down the ball. David Bell waived Rizzo around third. Neil Walker threw a strike to Russell Martin and Rizzo was tagged out. Schierholtz advanced to third on the throw. Sweeney tapped a 0-2 pitch back to the mound. The Cubs let a struggling Gerrit Cole off the hook and managed only one run on two hits and a walk. Cole threw 19 pitches in the first, nine for strikes.

Scott Baker retired the side in order in the first inning on 11 pitches, eight for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Cole in the second as he started settling in. Cole needed 29 pitches, 15 for strikes, to complete two innings.

Scott Baker surrendered an infield single to his former teammate, Justin Morneau, in the second, but that was all … 26 pitches for Baker after two innings, 19 for strikes.

Gerrit Cole struck out Scott Baker, Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena swinging in the third. Cole tossed 44 pitches, 25 for strikes, in three innings.

Scott Baker worked around a one-out single to right by Gerrit Cole in the third. Baker retired Tabata on a flyout to center (1-2 pitch) and Neil Walker flied out to left to end the inning. Baker threw 44 pitches, 31 for strikes, over his first three innings of work.

The Cubs led 1-0 after three complete on Saturday night.

Anthony Rizzo smoked a 1-1 pitch past Morneau and into right for a leadoff double in the fifth. Schierholtz could not get the job done and his at bat ended with an unproductive out. Schierholtz lined out to left (1-1 pitch). Sweeney grounded out to first (1-2 pitch), Rizzo advanced to third but was stranded when Bogusevic flied out to left center. After throwing nearly 20 pitches in the first inning, Cole needed only 56 pitches, 34 for strikes, to complete four frames.

Scott Baker retired the Pirates in order in the fourth (54 pitches, 38 for strikes) and after four innings, the Cubs led 1-0.

The Cubs wasted another scoring opportunity in the fifth. After Welington Castillo flied out to McCutchen at the wall in center for the first out, Darwin Barney singled to right. Baker could not get the bunt down and fouled out to Martin for the second out. Starlin Castro walked to put two on with two down for Luis Valbuena. McCutchen hauled in the routine fly off the bat of Valbuena to end the inning … 70 pitches for Cole after five innings, 43 for strikes.

Scott Baker made quick work of the Pirates in the fifth. Three up, three down for Baker and he threw 66 pitches, 47 for strikes, in five innings of work.

The Cubs went down in order in the sixth. Rizzo and Schierholtz struck out swinging and Sweeney popped out to second for the third out.

Scott Baker stayed in for the sixth and retired Cole on a grounder to short for the first out. Baker retired nine in a row at that point of the game. Jose Tabata cranked Baker’s first pitch to deep center. The ball left the yard and Tabata’s fifth homer of the season tied the game at one. Both Walker and McCutchen squared up Baker but Sweeney hauled in both hard hit balls to end the inning.

The game was tied at one after six innings.

Brian Bogusevic walked to start the seventh. Welington Castillo followed and ripped Cole’s first pitch into left for a single. With runners on first and second with no outs, Darwin Barney dropped a bunt toward third. Alvarez threw out Barney at first as Bogusevic and Castillo moved up ninety feet.

Dale Sveum went to his bench for Dioner Navarro to hit for Scott Baker. With the infield in and runners on second and third with one out, Navarro struck out swinging (2-2 pitch). Starlin Castro bounced a 1-1 pitch toward short and Mercer threw out Castro at first to end the inning. Cole threw 101 pitches, 61 for strikes, over seven innings … and after seven at bats, the Cubs were 1-for-8 with RISP and left six men on base.

James Russell took the mound for the seventh and retired Morneau on a tapper in front of the plate for the first out. Russell was left into face Byrd and served up a solo shot to his old teammate. Marlon Byrd cranked a 1-0 pitch to deep right center that ended up in the first row … 2-1 Pirates. Alvarez lined out to Sweeney and Dale Sveum went to his pen for Carlos Villanueva. Russell Martin struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs trailed 2-1 after seven innings.

The Cubs did nothing against lefty Tony Watson in the eighth.

Carlos Villanueva stayed in and started the eighth. Mercer grounded out to Murphy at third for the first out. Villanueva walked pinch-hitter Travis Snider and Sveum went to his pen as soon as Garrett Jones was announced as the pinch-hitter for Tony Watson. With Zac Rosscup on his way in, Clint Hurdle countered with Gaby Sanchez. Rosscup retired Sanchez on a flyout to right center. Neil Walker singled to center (2-1 pitch) and Sveum went back to his pen for Blake Parker to face McCutchen. Parker got out of the first and second two out jam by retiring Andrew McCutchen on a grounder to Castro for the third out.

The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down by one run.

Mark Melancon retired Sweeney on a grounder to second for the first out. Bogusevic struck out swinging but reached on wild pitch. Welington Castillo rapped into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Travis Wood wraps up the four-game series in Pittsburgh against Francisco Liriano on Sunday afternoon.

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Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • Theboardrider

    Baker should be resigned. I believe he will give us a good deal and he seems to be recovering nicely. When healthy he could be te best starter on our staff.

    • triple

      I don’t know if he’ll give the Cubs a good deal, but he definitely should be resigned!

    • Eugene Debs

      he’s going to end up getting about $2million a start this year, so he’ll be looking for what…..$30 million?

    • Tony_Hall

      I think it is a done deal. The Cubs had to talk to Baker before letting him start these games and have a basic understanding of what next year will be like.

      Expect him to get between $5 and $8M on a one year deal.

      • Sonate

        I think a deal like that would be in both parties’ interest. Baker wants a stab at the “brass ring” (which a 1-year deal allows) and the Cubs shouldn’t be giving 5-year contracts to pitchers who are already 31 and have had arm problems.

  • SirGladiator

    Keeping Baker is a good idea if the price is right. We already have a ton of pitching talent for next year, but you can never have too much, and we can trade him at the deadline for whatever we need at the time to win the Division, so I say go ahead and keep him.

    • Tony_Hall

      That is a point that I made once as well. Even when this team becomes competitive, don’t think that they won’t continue to sign Maholm, Feldman, Baker types who they can give a young arm the first half of the year in AAA still, and trade the vet to someone else and still get the return on them.

      • cubtex

        When this team ‘IS” competitive you shouldn’t have an open starting spot to sign a Maholm,Feldman and Baker type.That is why those pitchers signed with last place teams because a competitive team wouldn’t promise them a starting spot.

        • Tony_Hall

          NOT TRUE!

          Every year there are teams that have 4 SP’s and have to decide between bringing up their young AAA arm that they may not feel is ready and signing a FA to fill the spot. Teams can and do sign a 1 year FA type to fill this role and it is possible that they would trade that player mid-season to open up the spot for the young arm. This has and will continue to happen when the situation is there.

          Why all the down arrows TEX? It really is beneath you, especially when you reply that you disagree.

          • cubtex

            I gave you 1 down arrow on that 1 comment. What others have I given you? That comment made such little sense that it deserved a down arrow and I also commented. Don’t worry about me ever leaving a down arrow without a comment. You should try that as well :) hahaha. A competitive team will fill that last spot with either a young prospect or more of a sure thing like an aging vet. They will not ‘promise” a spot to someone like a Feldman who was coming off a terrible year. Capish? Feldman didn’t have any options but from a last place team.

          • Tony_Hall

            I would love for you to find a down arrow from me, that I didn’t tell the person I did it. You won’t find it!

            But to say that this is not possible, you are just arguing because I posted.

            Have a good day, we got rained out and were 2-0 in the semi-finals.

          • cubtex

            ha. someone is giving you a bunch of down arrows today.

          • Tony_Hall

            You, Paul, coach don, would be the likely guys. It isn’t hard to figure out the guys that disagree with any of us. I wish Neil could just eliminate the arrows and if you have a thought and want to give feedback, post a comment. That is what is so great about this site, the discussion.

          • cubtex

            I would love to be able to see who down arrows people…the same way you can the up arrows. I could care less about those. It is pretty easy to figure out who is giving them anyways. You know me…..I am not afraid to voice my opinion. lol

          • Tony_Hall

            I get that some people don’t want to post, but up arrows should be all we need. If you could see who was down arrowing, I bet there would be very few of them.

          • cubtex

            100% agree with that.

          • SuzyS

            I never do a down arrow…so take my name off that possible list.

          • Tony_Hall

            Suzy, I would never put you on that list. You are the voice of reason on here.

          • cubtex

            agreed Suzy. We don’t always agree but you give reasonable,thought out reasons for saying things you say.

          • paulcatanese

            No down arrow from me, that would say I acknowledge what you are saying about Sabermetrics. I could care less.
            In fact I am posting less and less and just reading posts and watching

          • SuzyS

            That time of the year, Paul…when we’re at the end of a losing season!!!
            Happy Football season, my friend.

  • Tony_Hall

    Let’s not forget the playoff race that we all want our Cubs to be a part of sooner, rather than later.

    National League Wild Card
    Pittsburgh/St Louis 86-62
    Cincinnati 84-65
    Washington 78-70 (5.5 GB)

    American League Wild Card
    Texas 81-66
    Tampa Bay 81-66
    Cleveland 80-68 (1.5 GB)
    New York 79-70 ( 3 GB)
    Kansas City 78-70 (3.5 GB)
    Baltimore 78-70 (3.5 GB)

    2 weeks and 1 day to go!

    • cubtex

      Just so we are clear. I see you have a down arrow on this before I respond. That was not me. I gave you one today on the Feldman post. Thank you for posting this. I counted 10 teams that have a chance with 2 weeks to go. 10 teams not including the division winners. How hard is it to try and be competitve enough to field a team good enough to have a chance for 1 of the 2 wild card spots?

      • Tony_Hall

        It is going to take 90 wins in the National League to get into the 1 game playoff for a chance to go to the real playoffs. I would say winning 90 is pretty hard to do.

        • cubtex

          so. you wouldn’t want an opportunity to win a WS just because you have to win a 1 game playoff first?? Cmon now.

          • Tony_Hall

            Of course, you do what you have to do. It is no different than a double elimination tournament, losing the last game between undefeated and having to go back and beat the last team in the losers bracket. You do it, but it doesn’t mean you like it.

            I don’t like the concept, but I like the watching Game 163 every year. And unfortunately, that is what drives this, getting people to watch games on TV.

          • cubtex

            you can only play by the rules that are implemented. You should take advantage of those every year and give your team the best chance since almost 1/2 of all the teams in all of baseball have a shot with a couple of weeks left in the season.

          • Tony_Hall

            But not this year. Only 3 teams have a chance at 2 Wild Card spots this year in the National League.

          • cubtex

            yes. but next year could be 7 teams. You just never know. That is why I hate the fact that Team Theo doesn’t even give the Cubs a chance by filling the team with Bogusevics,Valbuenas etc.

          • Tony_Hall

            A whole another discussion, that is for the off season….roster construction and free agents.

          • cubtex

            Look at what the Pirates did this offseason. The Red Sox, The Indians.
            Pirates were amazing. Liriano,Russell Martin, Melancon. Last year AJ Burnett. Signed Jason Grilli to close and hit on that. For a small market team to hit on all of those signings was amazing. He should be exec of the year imo

          • Tony_Hall

            The Pirates had a young core that was further along that ours.
            The Red Sox had a veteran core that is nearing the end.

            The Cubs could make a splash this off season if a deal makes sense, but I see it in trades rather than the 30 something FA market.

          • SuzyS

            Actually, The Red Sox amaze me that they are in the position they’re in after that massive, gutting, trade they did with the Dodgers last year.
            Who’d a thunk it?

            A Tanaka deal makes sense with the way the Cubs are building…barring financial problems…anything else will be more of the same type of deals we’ve seen the past few years…IMO.
            We really need an Ace pitcher…but I don’t think we’re deep enough yet…to trade for him.

          • SuzyS


        • SuzyS

          In a few years…it’s going to be really interesting for us. I expect the NL Central to be a really competitive division for a while…with St Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincy being good for the next several years….we’re going to have to build a WS caliber team just to win the division.
          I actually welcome that strategy as opposed to JH’s…(which was to build a team just good enough to win our weak division),,,IMO.

          • Tony_Hall

            Our lineup in one year should have the power bats that we need to be competitive. We have been able to field a competitive rotation now, and the bullpen is going to get better with all the power arms we have added to the system.

            We are closer than most want to believe, yet not moving fast enough for others.

          • SuzyS

            I don’t believe rebuilding is ever fast enough for any of us. Yet, I do believe the route we are taking to the playoffs is the very best of MY lifetime…and Yes, I’ve watched the Pirates win on a little round screen black and white TV.

          • Tony_Hall

            My first TV I was able to have in my room was a black and white and I don’t think even a 13″. It had the rabbit ears attached though, so I thought I was pretty cool.

          • SuzyS

            They were cool. We didn’t watch a lot….there wasn’t that much to watch.

          • cubtex

            We had color TV’s in the 70’s. lol. I am sure you remember the disco days Suzy with Sister Sledge and “We are Family” Pops Stargell, Dave Parker with those Cake Hats. lol

          • SuzyS

            Yes, the 70’s were fun but it was in the 60’s when I really became a fan of baseball….Both Boston and the Cubs.
            One of my greatest memories is listening to the AL pennant race in 1967 the last week of the season on a transistor radio…walking to school/recess/walking home etc.
            No divisions in baseball then…just pennant or bust.
            Boston,(Lonborg, Yazstremski), won the pennant on the last day of the season over Minnesota, and Detroit. The White Sox had been in contention the entire season behind Gary Peters…but floundered the last week of the season and finished 3 games out.

            While visiting in Boston that summer, I watched an incredible doubleheader with the Jim Fregosi Angels…The crowd roared with each pitch…ball, strike…walk…hit.
            From that point on…I was completely and utterly hooked on baseball.

          • SuzyS

            BTW…here’s a link to that 1967 race….a lot of “hallowed” baseball names come back to life here:

  • SuzyS

    Re Baker: The only reason Baker signed with us was because it was a one year deal with no options…(The Twins wanted a minimum of two years).
    From a team standpoint…it really did not make sense without the second year option…so I did not like the signing for that reason…(I always liked Baker).
    So I really hope there is some sort of “gentleman’s agreement” for Baker to resign with the Cubs for the upcoming season.