Game One Hundred Fifty-Four – Cubs 0, Pirates 4
WP – Francisco Liriano (12-7) LP – Jason Hammel (9-7) Save – None
The Cubs managed four hits Saturday and were shutout for the 10th time on the season. And Jason Hammel served up a three-run homer to Jordy Mercer in the fifth inning as the Cubs lost to the Pirates again Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs celebrated the franchise’s first trip to the post-season in seven years after Saturday’s loss. The party went from the clubhouse to the field. The players, coaches, Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Tom and Laura Ricketts all participated in the on-field celebration.
The playoff bound Cubs could not string together any hits against Francisco Liriano. The Cubs had a poor approach against the veteran lefty and managed only four hits. Kris Bryant (2-for-3 with a double and a walk) and Addison Russell (1-for-1 with two walks) reached base three times but Dexter Fowler (1-for-4) had the only other hit. The Cubs did not make Liriano work, allowed him to settle in and he racked up nine strikeouts.
Jason Hammel’s start Saturday was his entire season wrapped up in one outing. Hammel allowed two hits, no runs and kept the ball down in the zone in the first four innings. Hammel recorded eight ground ball outs among the first 12 outs he recorded. Hammel looked comfortable, found a rhythm and pounded the strike zone. Hammel needed 48 pitches (34 strikes) to complete four frames. Hammel looked like pre-July Jason Hammel for four innings.
The fifth inning was back to post-injury Jason Hammel. The Pirates jumped on Hammel’s mistakes. Hammel gave up five straight hits, the third was a three-run shot by Jordy Mercer. Hammel elevated in the fifth and the Pirates took batting practice before Maddon could get him out of the game. Justin Grimm and Trevor Cahill cleaned up Hammel’s mess. The Pirates did not score again in the fifth. But the concerns about Hammel moving forward were magnified. After being as good as he has all season in four innings, Hammel was the exact opposite in the fifth.
Jason Hammel gave up three runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts. Hammel made 62 pitches, 43 for strikes, in four-plus innings.
Justin Grimm struck out one and walked one in the fifth. Grimm threw the ball well. Andrew McCutchen would not chase.
Trevor Cahill should be included on the Cubs’ Wild Card roster. If anything he improved his stock Saturday. Cahill took over for Grimm with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Cahill retired Aramis Ramirez on a flyout to right and struck out Neil Walker swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Clayton Richard issued a walk in the sixth, but that was all. Richard retired three of the four batters he faced.
Neil Ramirez was effective in the seventh and pitched around a Kris Bryant error. Tommy Hunter surrendered the Pirates’ fourth run in the eighth. Hunter left too many pitches up in the zone.
Carl Edwards Jr. pitched a 1-2-3 ninth that included striking out Andrew McCutchen looking for the second out of the inning.
With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 89-65 on the season.
Jason Hammel made one mistake over the first four innings. Hammel was very sharp and allowed just two hits and no runs in four innings on 48 pitches, 34 for strikes. It all unraveled quickly in the fifth.
Francisco Cervelli started the fifth by juicing a 3-1 pitch into center for a single. Pedro Alvarez smoked a single to right center (1-0 pitch) and the Pirates had runners on first and second after two rather hard hit balls. Jordy Mercer launched a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in left center. And the light hitting Mercer made it a 3-0 game.
Francisco Liriano lined a single to right over Castro. Starling Marte pulled a 0-2 pitch to deep left. The ball one-hopped the vines but Liriano could not advance past second base. With runners on first and second and no outs, Joe Maddon popped out of the duguout and made the slow walk to the mound. Justin Grimm replaced Hammel and struck out Travis Snider. Grimm walked Andrew McCutchen and loaded the bases with one out.
Maddon decided that was enough for Grimm and brought in Trevor Cahill to face Ramirez.
Aramis Ramirez popped the first pitch from Cahill into right field. Soler caught the routine out. Liriano didn’t even try to score. Cahill struck out Neil Walker swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs made it too easy for Liriano in the fifth. Liriano spent a majority of the top half on the bases. David Ross rolled his first pitch to short and Matt Szczur, hitting for Cahill, popped his first pitch to right … two outs on two pitches is bad baseball. Addison Russell walked, first free pass of the day for the Cubs. Dexter Fowler bounced out to Ramirez for the third out. Liriano made only 62 pitches, 43 for strikes, in five innings.
After five complete, it was 3-0 Pirates.
The Pirates tacked on in the eighth. And it was the Cubs’ defense that handed Pittsburgh another run. Tommy Hunter retired Neil Walker with a swinging strikeout for the first out. Francisco Cervelli singled to right and enhanced the Pirates chances of scoring a run when he moved up to second on a passed ball from David Ross. Sean Rodriguez doubled, Cervelli scored … 4-0 Pirates. Mercer rolled a 0-1 pitch toward Rizzo. Rodriguez tried to score from second. Rizzo threw a strike to Ross. Rodriguez was out by a mile. Teams still think of the Cubs as the same old Cubbies. Those days are over. Liriano singled to right off Hunter. With runners on the corners, Hunter caught Marte looking to end the inning.
Addison Russell walked to start the eighth. Liriano got Fowler to chase on a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Jackson also struck out swinging. Kris Bryant walked and forced Clint Hurdle to go to his pen with Rizzo due up. Hurdle replaced Liriano with Antonio Bastardo. Rizzo popped out to right center on a 1-1 pitch to end the inning.
The Pirates took a commanding 4-0 lead into the ninth.
Carl Edwards Jr. pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but the Cubs went down in order against Joakim Soria to end the game.
Jake Arrieta takes on A.J. Burnett in the series finale with Pirates on Sunday night (7:08pm CDT).