As most of you know and the rest will learn, I’m an optimist at heart. So what kind of spin can I put on the Pirates’ sixth straight loss?
At least it wasn’t a blowout.
Unfortunately, it was yet another loss, this one 4-2 against the Cubs, spoiling the Bucs’ home opener at PNC Park. But there were some small signs of life. Small, mind you.
Bucs starter Tyler Anderson was not impressive, but he wasn’t horrible either. After striking out Willson Contreras for the first out in the first inning, he dealt a hanger, which Kris Bryant hit for a no-doubter to center to make it 1-0 Cubs. Those traumatized by the Reds series steeled themselves for the scoring deluge to begin … but it didn’t. Anderson got dinged, but mostly for singles and walks that proved unproductive, and in 5.1 innings he struck out five. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that another run was scored—but this one was by the Pirates! Really!
And guess who started that rally? None other than the much-maligned Gregory Polanco. El Coffee singled, his first of two (he also walked), Jacob Stallings singled, and Dustin Fowler sacrificed Polanco home to tie things up. Then something unbelievable happened—Adam Frazier singled. Okay, maybe that’s not that unusual, but he got Stallings home. The Pirates had an actual lead! Joy reigned on the banks of the Allegheny.
That … did not last. In the sixth inning, Anthony Rizzo singled, then Javier Baez brought him home with another sure thing swing, ending Anderson’s day and giving the 3-2 lead back to the Cubs. Clay Holmes and Kyle Crick followed, both serviceable and non-spectacular. In the eighth inning, Derek Shelton brought in Sam Howard to replace Crick. Rizzo was up. Howard threw one pitch, and Rizzo promptly deposited it over the right center field fence. Oops.
The Pirates are still having major issues with bringing guys home. Jake Arrieta gave up seven hits and two walks over six innings, but other than in the fourth inning the Bucs didn’t capitalize, including leaving the bases loaded in the second and eighth innings. Solo home runs remain the bugaboo of the Bucs’ pitching staff as well, but it was good relief that kept them in the game.
Again, it’s April. The season is a week old. True, things aren’t looking good, but it’s not like we weren’t warned. The Pirates were more in this game than they have been, so there’s that.