With news circulating that manager Clint Hurdle will likely return to Pittsburgh in 2020 for another year with the Pirates, potentially giving him the longest active tenure among coaches, the team finished off the Chicago Cubs’ slim playoff hopes with a home victory by a score of 4-2. The win gave the Bucs two in a row and a chance for a sweet sweep of the Cubs even if they have nothing to play for but pride at the end of September.
Dario Agrazal pitched as well as anyone could’ve hoped in his final start of 2019. Two Ian Happ RBIs were the only blemishes on a very good outing for the young right-hander. Happ grounded an RBI single to right field in the second inning, scoring Willson Contreras who was on third after his one-out triple. Happ then ended Agrazal’s night in the top of the seventh inning with a solo shot to right center field to lead off the inning.
Agrazal was yanked for Francisco Liriano, and his final line read 6.0(+) innings with two earned runs on six hits and no walks. He struck a solid five Cubs in the process. As I mentioned briefly in the game thread, this was the first time since mid-July that Agrazal lasted six innings or more.
The Pirates were trailing 1-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth inning when Adam Frazier hit a one-out single up the middle. Then after a fielder’s choice by Jose Osuna and a strikeout by Pablo Reyes, Erik Gonzalez extended his impressive stretch with a run-scoring, two out double into the left field corner. E Gon advanced to third on the throw, and Jake Elmore tacked on with an RBI single to make it 2-0 before the inning ended.
Happ tied it up with his aforementioned solo shot in the seventh inning, but the Bucs were able to grab the lead again in the bottom of the eighth inning. After inheriting a runner with one out, David Phelps walked another batter and then threw two wild pitches, allowing Osuna to score and take the lead. Then a sacrifice fly by Gonzalez in the same at-bat scored Reyes to push the lead to two runs, 4-2.
That margin was all closer Keone Kela would need to shut the door in the ninth inning. He induced a Jason Heyward double play to wipe out the full count walk to Happ, and then a grounder to second ended things without drama. The Pirates and Cubs will face off for the final time this season on Thursday night at 7:05 pm Eastern at PNC Park. Joe Musgrove is slated to take on lefty Jose Quintana.
Quick note from the author:
It came to my attention earlier this week that a former contributor to Bucs Dugout, Jason Rollison passed away after his fight with cancer. I didn’t know Jason, as he left just before I was brought on, but I was a fan of his content, particularly his podcast, and he clearly had a big impact on the BD and Pirates community. Brian plans to post an article Thursday morning going more into detail on how to donate on Jason’s behalf, but I wanted to give my condolences here as well. Thanks to Jason for all of his hard work and awesome Pirates content. He will certainly be missed.