Jake Arrieta continued his moderately successful 2016 campaign with seven innings of two-hit shutout ball at PNC Park Tuesday as the Cubs dominated the Pirates for a 7-1 win. Arrieta struck out five and lowered his ERA to a "need to set the video game to a higher difficulty level"-seque 0.84 on the year. I'm trying to think of another semi-recent ultra-frustrating loss to Arrieta at PNC Park that this reminded me of, but I can't quite think of one...
Arrieta did walk the first two Pirate batters of the game, which almost felt like a fireworks-worthy achievement in itself, but struck out David Freese and got Matt Joyce and Francisco Cervelli to ground out to neutralize the Pirates' only semi-threatening inning against him.
The Cubs opened the scoring in the top of the second. Jon Niese hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch, then Ben Zobrist followed with a double and Javier Baez hit into a run-scoring groundout. Niese -- who struggled with his command again throughout the night -- then walked Addison Russell and Tim Federowicz, the Cubs' seven and eight hitters, and Arrieta himself smoked a line drive single to center to make it 2-0.
As if the two-run deficit to Arrieta didn't feel insurmountable enough, the Cubs basically sealed the game in the top of the 4th. Niese opened with a leadoff walk to Russell followed by a long Federowicz double off the Clemente Wall. Russell scored on a wild pitch, Dexter Fowler walked, and Jorge Soler made it 4-0 with a broken bat single to left center.
Kris Bryant then crushed a long, high fly ball into the Notch in left center that McCutchen actually ran down, but the ball hit off his glove on his leaping catch attempt. The play went down as an extremely-long run-scoring single. Rizzo then hit his first of two doubles to make it 6-0.
At this point, the Pirates' win probability wasn't looking so good, to say the least:
Niese finished the game with an unsightly line: 5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO, with a HBP and a run-scoring wild pitch. The performance will assuredly cue some more starting rotation worry/anger from Bucco fans; expect Google searches of "when is the 2016 super two deadline" to continue to skyrocket.
The Pirates did score a meaningless run in the eighth when Sean Rodriguez singled off reliever Trevor Cahill, then advanced to third on a Russell throwing error and came home on a Jaso dribbler. But other than A.J. Schugel's three nnings of hitless relief, there weren't many bright spots for Pirates fans, and that's already kiiinda pushing it. When the ROOT Sports intense-music highlight reel is mostly Pirates infielders turning routine ground balls into outs, you know it hasn't been a great night.
Even this dog was like, "I guess I should've expected this."
The Pirates dropped their third straight and will try to salvage a win in the series Wednesday afternoon when Juan Nicasio takes on Jon Lester. Ah well. At least we're not all complaining about the Pirates' "fundamentals" for a day.