A scene seen before
By the time the top of the seventh ended, the mood in PNC Park was way too familiar. With the exception of a first inning home run by Andrew McCutchen, the Cubs had dominated the Pirates from wire-to-wire. The Pirates were frustrated, the Cubs were comfortably in front, and the two teams disagreed about who owed whom a hit batsman and why.
"It was our night to come up short across the board," Clint Hurdle said.
In the top of the seventh, Kyle Lobstein drilled Ben Zobrist in the backend and tempers flared. Joe Maddon yelled at Lobstein. Francisco Cervelli shouted into the Cubs' dugout. And Clint Hurdle was livid at either Maddon, home plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Cubs' bench or all of the them at once. The whole scene stopped short of the adrenaline-fueled chaos of October's Wild Card Game, but for a few seconds it was headed in that direction.
"Just guys being guys," Hurdle said of the yelling, the pointing and the theatrics.
Lobstein said the pitch in question simply got away from him.
"I've been telling you guys this all season I throw 87 MPH, I've got to pitch inside," Lobstein said. "I've got to make guys uncomfortable, so I'm going to end up hitting some guys with that philosophy. It happens."
Mark Melancon, listening in from a locker over, interrupted Lobstein and dryly quipped, "You can get it up to 88 MPH."
Cervelli wasn't sure what was being said from the Cubs' dugout, he was just tired of hearing them say it.
"I understand they've got to protect their teammates, but I've got to protect mine," Cervelli said. "If you get mad, okay, get mad, but don't keep talking, talking. It's my guy on the mound so I have to protect him. I don't know what they were saying. I just heard a lot of talking."
It's possible the Cubs believe they still the owe the Pirates a HBP, and with Jake Arrieta going tomorrow that could get interesting ... or silly, take your pick.
The Cubs roughed up and ran wild on Gerrit Cole. They placed the leadoff man on base in each of the first four innings and, in the first three of those innings, the leadoff hitter ended up stealing second. The one time they didn't steal second base, the runner still ended up at second via a Cole pick-off throwing error. It was a tough all-around night for the right-hander.
"I would say that out of sync is a good way of describing it," Cole said. "There really wasn't a whole lot of command, period."
Cole lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and six runs. He walked four and struck out six.
"He just didn't have it tonight, the fastball command wasn't available," Hurdle said.
In a leadership move, Cervelli put the blame on himself for Cole's poor outing and the three steals.
"As a catcher you have to figure out when something isn't working, how to make it happen," Cervelli said of Cole's struggles. "It looks like I wasn't able to do it, so it's my fault, really. I take the bullets today."
"I think it was me. That's it."
Another delayed double steal
The Cubs borrowed a page from the Reds' playbook and executed a delayed double steal to cap-off what was already an ugly top of the fifth. With three runs already in, the play was set in motion with David Ross taking off for second. Cervelli made the throw down to second where Harrison grabbed it and threw home to try to get Matt Szczur. They ball was thrown well over Cervelli's head and the run scored.
It is the second successful delayed double steal against the Pirates in as many days.
"We're doing everything, but the last piece, right," Hurdle said.