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Outclassed Pirates lose to Cubs, 6-1

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have a penchant this year for playing games that seem like microcosms of their season as a whole. I’m thinking of saving this recap as a template, so here goes. The starter, Trevor Williams did a remarkable job initially of overcoming a bumbling defense, but in the end he was overmatched by a powerful lineup. The Pirates’ lineup, also known as Andrew McCutchen and the Seven Dwarves, blew chance after chance against a starter who couldn’t find the strike zone. And the white flag legion let the game get out of hand. The final was 6-1.

The first inning was almost a game in itself. It started tamely, with Adam Frazier and Josh Harrison continuing their deep slumps. McCutchen, though, hit a drive off the wall in left that required homerun review and was ruled a double. Walks to Josh Bell and John Jaso loaded the bases, but Gregory Polanco struck out. Williams faced a much tougher situation in the bottom half. A single, an infield hit and a throwing error on Harrison put runners on second and third with nobody out. Williams escaped, though, getting Anthony Rizzo on a pop up in a nine-pitch at-bat, then a lineout from A.J. Happ and a dribbler back to the mound from Kyle Schwarber, on which Williams made a nice play.

The second inning was more of the same. This time the Pirates got runners to second and third with nobody out, but Williams, Frazier and Harrison couldn’t get a run in. The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half, thanks to a walk and errors by Frazier and Bell, but Williams struck out Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant. In fact, he struck out the side, as he’d fanned Jason Heyward to start the inning.

The game effectively ended in the fourth. It started with the Pirates blowing yet another chance after the first two batters reached base. With two outs in the bottom half, Williams finally couldn’t escape any more. Zobrist singled and Bryant tripled off Harrison’s glove. Rizzo then went deep and Williams’ outing was over.

The guys who can’t be used in games that are still in doubt made sure the game was no longer in doubt. Jhan Marinez made it 4-0 by serving up a gopher ball to Bryant in the sixth. In the eighth, Antonio Bastardo gave up a two-run HR to Bryant. In between, the Pirates did the fake rally thing in the seventh. McCutchen singled for his third hit, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Bell. Other than that, the Pirates had few opportunities to blow against the Cubs’ bullpen. They went down tamely in the ninth, finishing with six hits, three by McCutchen and three by the dwarves. They were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded a dozen. Wash rinse repeat.