A Veras Frustrating, Extra Long Loss – Pirates 4, Cubs 3

Game Two – Cubs 3, Pirates 4 – 16 innings

WP – Stolmy Pimentel (1-0) LP – Carlos Villanueva (0-2) Save – None

The Cubs and Pirates played extra innings for the second straight game after the Cubs battled back and tied the game at two with a pair of runs off the Pirates’ pen in the eighth and ninth innings. Anthony Rizzo led off the 12th inning with his first home run of the season and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. But Jose Veras allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the home half … and the Cubs and Pirates kept on playing.

Pinch-hitter Tony Sanchez delivered the game winning single off of Carlos Villanueva with one out in the 16th inning that plated Jose Tabata … and sent the Cubs to 0-2 on the season.

The Cubs and Pirates played the longest game ever in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night (five hours and 55 minutes) and the two teams combined to throw over 500 pitches.

Rick Renteria emptied his bench and bullpen. Travis Wood even made a pinch-hit appearance and Carlos Villanueva had to pitch the last 1 1/3 innings of the game. With Villanueva making a relief appearance on Wednesday night, the Cubs will likely have to shift their pitching plans for the weekend. Villanueva was scheduled to start Sunday’s finale against the Phillies.

The Cubs had countless chances to score runs once again but managed just one hit with a runner in scoring position (1-for-16) and left 19 runners on base. The Cubs outhit the Pirates 15-8 and had runners on base in just about every inning of the marathon.

The Cubs are 1-for-27 with runners in scoring position after two games and have left 27 men on base.

Emilio Bonifacio (5-for-7 with a walk, a run scored and two stolen bases) collected five more hits and has reached base 10 times in his first two games. Bonifacio was picked off first base in the first inning of Wednesday’s game. According to Judd Sirott, Bonifacio is the only player in the modern era that has collected nine hits in his first two games of a season.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5 with a home run, a walk and two HBP) cranked his first longball of the season in the 12th inning after the Pirates hit him twice earlier in the game. Luis Valbuena (3-for-6 with a RBI and two walks) recorded the Cubs’ first hit of the season with a runner in scoring position when he singled in Junior Lake (2-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a stolen base) in the ninth inning. Nate Schierholtz (2-for-8 with a RBI) was credited with a RBI in the eighth inning when replay overturned a call on a would-be inning ending double play.

Edwin Jackson’s first outing of the season looked like many of his starts from a year ago. Edwin Jackson struggled with his command in the first two innings, settled down for a few innings, but walks ran up his pitch count and he was lifted before he could complete six innings. Jackson committed the error that led to the unearned run on a wild pick-off throw to first base. Welington Castillo helped bail Jackson out of trouble in the second inning when he picked Jordy Mercer off first base to end the inning. Jackson went onto retire 10 batters in a row before issuing a leadoff walk to Starling Marte in the sixth.

Edwin Jackson was charged with two runs, one earned, on two hits with four walks, a hit batsman and five strikeouts. Jackson threw 94 pitches, 57 for strikes, in 5 1/3 innings.

The Cubs bullpen was very good until Jose Veras took the hill in the 12th inning. James Russell, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Brian Schlitter and Wesley Wright all pitched scoreless innings. The Pirates managed only two hits off the six relievers.

Wednesday was a long, strange game. The Cubs turned a 7-2-3 double play in the 13th inning after Rick Renteria pulled Junior Lake in from left field and used five infielders to try to get out of a bases loaded jam. The strategy worked as Lake started the 7-2-3 double play. The Cubs first run of the season scored on a replay review. Four different players were hit by pitches, and three of the HBPs happened after both benches were warned in the second inning.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 0-2 on the season.

Edwin Jackson escaped a rough first inning without allowing the Pirates to score. The defense turned a double play behind Jackson which helped because he threw 16 pitches, only seven for strikes in the first inning. The Pirates put a run on the board in the second and it could have been more if not for Welington Castillo.

Russell Martin lined out to Schierholtz in right to start the second inning. Neil Walker hit a sinking liner to left that Ryan Kalish got a glove on as he tried to make a sliding catch. The ball popped out of his glove and Walker ended up at first base. Edwin Jackson walked Travis Ishikawa to put two on with one down for Jordy Mercer. The Pirates’ shortstop singled to left (2-1 pitch), Walker scored and the Pirates took a 1-0 lead. Charlie Morton put together a strange at bat one in which he failed to get the bunt down and Starling Marte stepped in with runners on first and second with two down. After the second pitch to Marte, Welington Castillo threw a strike to Rizzo and picked off Mercer from first to end the inning. Jackson needed 36 pitches, 18 for strikes, to get through the first two innings.

The game remained 1-0 Pirates until the sixth innings as the Cubs offense remained offensive.

Edwin Jackson settled in after a bad start and retired 10 batters in a row before issuing a leadoff walk to Starling Marte in the sixth inning. Jackson uncorked a wild pickoff throw to first base before a 0-2 pitch to Travis Snider. Marte advanced to second. Jackson struck out Snider for the first out before he walked Andrew McCutchen. With runners on first and second with one down, Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Jackson and went to his pen for James Russell.

James Russell struck out Pedro Alvarez and appeared to retired Russell Martin on a smash toward short. Castro did not field the ball, it ate him up. Marte scored on Castro’s first error of the season, 2-0 Pirates. Neil Walker filed out to center to end the inning.

After Justin Grimm pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, Emilio Bonifacio led off the eighth with a bloop single to center. Luis Valbuena worked a full count before lining a single into center. Bonifacio was not running with the pitch and stopped at second base. Starlin Castro hit a dribbler toward short. Mercer fielded the ball and threw out Castro at first as Bonifacio and Valbuena moved up 90 feet. With first base open, Mark Melancon hit Rizzo with the first pitch. But homeplate umpire Bob Davidson did nothing after he warned both benches in the second inning when Charlie Morton hit Rizzo in retaliation for Edwin Jackson hitting Starling Marte. Nate Schierholtz appeared to hit into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play. But Rick Renteria thought Neil Walker’s throw pulled Mercer off the bag. Renteria asked for the play to be reviewed. The call was reversed, Bonifacio scored … 2-1 Pirates. With runners on second and third with two down, Sweeney rolled out to second base for the third out.

Pedro Strop retired three of the four batters he faced in the eighth and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs down 2-1.

Jason Grilli retired Welington Castillo on a flyout to right for the first out. Junior Lake reached on a single to left center. After Mike Olt hit for Strop and flied out to deep center, Emilio Bonifacio recorded his fourth hit of the game with a single to left center. With runners on first and second and two down, Luis Valbuena pulled a 1-0 pitch into right. Lake scored, game tied at two. Starlin Castro stepped in with runners on the corners and popped out to Walker in shallow right to end the inning.

The game remained tied at two until the 12 inning when Anthony Rizzo launched his first home run of the season leading off the inning. Jeanmar Gomez gave up a single to Nate Schierholtz after Rizzo’s blast before retiring Sweeney (flyout to left center), Castillo (strikeout) and Lake (strikeout) to end the inning.

Jose Veras took the hill in the bottom of the 12th with his new team up 3-2. Veras retired Neil Walker on a flyout to center (3-2 pitch) for the first out. Veras then walked Travis Ishikawa. Clint Hurdle had Clint Barmes run for Ishikawa at first base. Veras hit Jordy Mercer and put runners on first and second with one out. Luis Valbuena made a nice pick of a ball ticketed for left field off the bat of Jose Tabata. Valbuena made a strong throw to Barney to force Mercer. Tabata beat the throw to first and the Pirates had runners on the corners with two down. Starling Marte pulled a 3-2 pitch into left. Barmes scored and tied the game at three. Gaby Sanchez hit for Gomez and walked. With the bases loaded and two down, Andrew McCutchen swung at and missed a 3-2 breaking ball from Veras to end the inning.

The game remained tied at three until the 16th inning. Jordy Mercer led off the inning with a single to right under Anthony Rizzo’s glove. Jose Tabata tried to bunt him to second. But Valbuena fielded the ball and threw a strike to Bonifacio for the force out (5-6 fielder’s choice). Starling Marte singled to left. Tabata advanced to third on the play. With the infield in, pinch-hitter Tony Sanchez singled to left. Tabata scored … game over.

The Cubs and Pirates wrap up the three-game series on Thursday morning (11:35am CDT). Jason Hammel is scheduled to face Wandy Rodriguez.

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  • SuzyS
    • Tony_H

      Very good read, thanks for sharing. It seems those guys in Boston back then were on top of things.

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  • Tony_H

    MLB needs to get away from this totally useless day off that all teams seem to get after 1 game. Let the teams play M/T/W and then give all teams Thursday off. That would make it a much more useful day off at the beginning of the season and help every teams pitching staff as most teams bullpens get taxed the first few weeks.

    Right now Villanueva will have to start Sunday (unless they try to pull of a roster move) which will in turn be a bullpen day, as I bet Villanueva won’t be able to go that deep in the game on Sunday.

    • Eugene Debs

      Not a bad idea.

      Villanueva has been brutal so far, lets hope he does better when starting.

      Maybe bring someone up for Sunday?

      • Tony_H

        Not sure it is that easy, as they would have to hold back Rusin from making the Opening night start for Iowa today.

        Villanueva should get the start with the thought of getting 5 inning out of him. Monday is an off day, so all hands on deck. But finishing a game in 9 innings would sure help (free baseball is great but not every day).

  • mutantbeast

    Gee, we beat ourselves again. Didnt we sign Veras NOT to be Carlos MarmHo 2.0, and walk or hit the 7th and 8th place hitters?