The park was cold and mostly empty when this one started. An avalanche of Cubs hits and Pirates defensive mistakes led to ten runs in the first three innings. In the fifth, the Pirates made wholesale substitutions and surrendered. It was a miserable night, an ugly game and it's all best forgotten. The final score was 14-3.
Chad Kuhl retired the first two outs of the game before walking Anthony Rizzo. With Ben Zobrist batting, Rizzo stole second after starting his jump while Kuhl was still in the set position. It was yet the latest example of Pirates pitchers doing a poor job controlling the running game.
"14 different people yelled from the dugout and the infield," Clint Hurdle said. "It's not the first time it's happened to us. it's something we're well aware of and need to improve upon off the mound. We haven't figured that one out yet."
With Rizzo on second, Kuhl walked Zobrist. Addison Russell knocked a single and Rizzo came around to score. It was close play at the plate, but Francisco Cervelli dropped the ball while making the tag. Jason Heyward followed with a three-run homer and the Cubs were out to a quick 4-0 lead.
In the second, the Cubs peppered right field with four hits, including one that went right off Jose Osuna's glove, as he chased a fly ball to the wall. When all was said and done, the Cubs had posted five more runs.
"Chad [Kuhl] didn't have his best stuff tonight," Hurdle said. "There's a catchable ball in right field that we didn't catch with the bases loaded that complicated things."
Kuhl only made it through 1.2 innings and allowed eight hits and nine runs. He walked four and struck out one.
"You have to look at tonight as one of those things that happens in baseball," Kuhl said. "Can't be a slave to the numbers and ERA, because this is just going to skew it for a while. It's just about going out there and being the pitcher I can be for my teammates."
The Cubs scored another run in the third after Cervelli dropped another throw to the plate. They tacked on four more runs the rest of the way.
Antonio Bastardo pitched 1.1 innings after the game was out of reach and allowed a run, two walks and three hits. He was, once again, very inefficient, throwing 39 pitches in his short stint. Over his last two outings he's thrown a combined 76 pitches in 2.2 innings pitched.
In total, there were four poor defensive plays in the first three innings. Although the blame for this one can't all be laid at the feet of the defense, as the Cubs hit Kuhl early and often, it was yet another terribly sloppy effort from the Pirates defenders. The team now leads the league in both errors (19) and stolen bases allowed (20). With the offense the Pirates are throwing out there every night, there is no way this club competes without an elite, shutdown defense, and that is nowhere to be seen.
On a positive note, Osuna went 3-for-4 and came a home run short of a cycle.
Dovydas Neverauskas became the first Lithuanian to pitch in a major league game tonight. He went two innings, allowed a run and struck out one.
"It was awesome," Neverauskas said of the experience. "It's the moment I've waited for. It happened, and I was really excited."