A brief note to the Buccos after Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field:
There are nine innings in a regulation game. You are allowed to score in any inning and not just the ninth. Just putting that out there.
There, I feel better.
Mitch Keller, however, may not. The young righty didn’t seem to have his usual stuff, although he managed to pitch his way out of trouble in the first two innings thanks to timely strikeouts and double plays, but he gave up homers to Ian Happ and Javier Báez in the third inning. With Willson Contreras at the plate, Keller threw off the plate, then bounced the ball off the grass on the next pitch and called for a trainer. The official word is “left side discomfort.” Chris Stratton came in relief and struck Contreras out, and between him and JT Brubaker the Pirates managed to make it through the middle innings without giving up any runs to the Cubs. Unfortunately, they didn’t score any either.
Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood either put in a solid outing or was made to look much better than he actually is due to the Pirates’ semi-comatose bats, depending on your outlook. He went 6.2 innings with three hits, no earned runs and eleven Ks. Jeremy Jeffress followed him with a perfect inning and a third. On the Pirates’ side, Michael Feliz came into the eighth, walked Báez and dished up a homer to Kyle Schwarber to make it 4-0 for the Cubs.
However, the Cubs’ bullpen apparently didn’t want to be outdone, as Kyle Ryan started the top of the ninth inning hanging a single to Kevin Newman and striking out Josh Bell. Next up? Colin Moran. And of course Moran promptly pounded one to right center to finally put the Bucs on the board 4-2. A Bryan Reynolds double drove out Ryan and brought in Rowan Wick, who couldn’t care less about Reynolds trotting over to third. Gregory Polanco grounded out to bring Reynolds home and Phillip Evans walked, and suddenly—gasp!—a rally was within the Pirates’ grasp. Just as suddenly, though, Jose Osuna’s non-productive groundout brought the rally, and the game, to an end.
Really, guys, lots of innings in which to score, not just one.