The Cubs took game one of the series behind quick scoring in the early innings and the ability to execute on the mound.
Granted, Chicago’s ability to execute on the mound was directly related to Pittsburgh’s inability to execute at the plate. It’s tough to overcome a two-run deficit on a day when the Pirates’ hitters are 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Here’s how the scoring went:
The Pirates came out of the gates swinging after Harrison and Meadows led off the game with back to back singles. Harrison, who had reached third on Meadows’ single, scored on a Starling Marte sacrifice fly. This proved to be the only run the Pirates were able to push across on the day.
The Cubs answered quickly in their half of the 1st inning when Bryant led off with a single. Heyward then followed up with a double and Zobrist was able to knock Bryant in on an RBI single. Rizzo delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Heyward before the threat ended.
The Bucs looked like they would have a chance to do it again in the 2nd inning after back to back singles by Dickerson and Freese, but that was before Moran grounded into a routine double play to effectively pour water over the threat.
Chicago loaded the bases in the 2nd inning when Kuhl issued a one out walk to the pitcher and allowed singles to Bryant and Heyward. With the bases juiced, Zobrist hit a chopper up the middle. Harrison made a nice play on the ball, fielding it and stepping on the bag to get Heyward before firing to first. Unfortunately, the throw to first to get Zobrist was not in time and Montgomery was able to score on the play. This effectively concluded the scoring for the game.
Kuhl settled down in innings three through five, retiring eight of the nine batters he faced but was finally pulled in the 6th inning after a couple of cheap singles by Contreras and Almora followed by a loud out off of Baez’s bat.
Edgar Santana took the mound and performed uncharacteristic of recent outings by the Bucs’ bullpen while striking out the next two batters to end the scoring threat. Neverauskas followed suit, looking sharp over two scoreless innings of relief before the game ended in the Cubs’ favor.
The Pirates had opportunities to score in the 7th and 9th innings, each while having a runner on second with nobody out.
Mercer led off the 7th with a double to left center. Josh Bell was able to advance him to third on a soft ground ball to second. Then Harrison stepped in the batter’s box and appeared to have left any sort of hitting approach in the dugout. His swing selection in the at bat was garbage and not at all conducive to a ‘score the runner from third’ approach. Harrison ultimately grounded out softly to third, failing to score Mercer. Meadows didn’t fare any better while striking out to end the inning.
Moran led off the 9th with a single to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Mercer struck out and Polanco grounded out to second. Then, with Moran on third, Harrison hit a deep fly ball in the left field corner that looked to be ticketed for extra bases until Ian Happ made an incredible diving grab to end the game. Cubs secured the win, 3 – 1.
The Bucs will try again tomorrow at 2:20pm as Kingham is set to face off against Lester.