Once again doomed by the unfortunate combination of lackluster pitching and anemic bats despite back-to-back homers by Josh Bell and Colin Moran in the ninth inning, the Pirates lost to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday night by a score of 6-3.
Trevor Williams lasted a bit longer than his first outing, going four and two-thirds innings and notching six strikeouts in his 93 pitches. His undoing, however, began in the third inning, when he walked Kris Bryant, hit Anthony Rizzo (to be fair, everyone seems to be hitting Rizzo these days) and gave up a bunt single to Javier Báez, which turned into a two-bagger thanks to his throwing error to Bell and scored Bryant. He then gave up a solo homer to Jason Kipnis in the bottom of the fourth. The bottom of the fifth inning started much like the third, except Williams walked Rizzo instead of hitting him. Jacob Stallings then picked off Rizzo at first. That was the end of Williams’s night, but Nik Turley wasn’t an improvement, promptly walking Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, then yielding a two-run single to Jason Heyward to make it 4-0 for the Cubs and earning himself a yank in favor of Geoff Hartlieb. Hartlieb didn’t set the world on fire, but at least he made it through the sixth.
Yu Darvish pitched six strong innings, only giving up singles to Moran and Cole Tucker and topping out at 98 on the radar gun while striking out seven. Kyle Ryan relieved him, but was taken out in the eighth inning when Gregory Polanco hit a solid double up the middle. The Cubs’ bullpen has been dodgy this season, and Rowan Wick didn’t help its reputation when he dealt a single to Jarrod Dyson, scoring Polanco and undoubtedly making the Bucs heave a sigh of relief that at least the game wouldn’t be a shutout.
The Cubs added to their lead in the eighth inning, when Miguel Del Pozo walked Kipnis and Ian Happ singled. Dovydas Neverauskas replaced Del Pozo, and Bryant and Rizzo wasted no time singling off him, Rizzo getting two RBIs out of it to put the score at 6-1. Fortunately, the bleeding ended with Contreras hitting into a double play.
The Pirates had one last gasp in the ninth with Bell and Moran’s consecutive solo shots off Craig Kimbrel for the only exciting Bucs offense of the night, but it wasn’t enough. Sadly, that was the theme of the Pirates’ first week of the 2020 season.