The bookend win: Cubs 9, Pirates 5

Score a few in the 1st inning, and then put up a half dozen in the final inning. That's one way to do it, but bookending the game like that makes for an upheaval of emotion probably too intense for a June Friday night. Thankfully, the six runs the Cubs tagged on to the Pittsburgh bullpen in the top of the 9th reframed this recap and most of our moods until tomorrow night, but until then, this one had the makings of the classic "how'd this one get away?" loss.

Anthony Rizzo led off again and looked like he was going to begin with a home run for the third straight game --- and to be fair, I say he did --- but the replay-less review overturned the home run call and turned it into a foul. Joe Maddon raved and swore, Rizzo barked from the dugout, Maddon was tossed, and the Cubs scored three runs that inning anyway. Thanks to an eventual walk to Rizzo, loaded bases that allowed Ian Happ to score on a wild pitch, and a double from Willson Contreras, the lost home run didn't feel like it mattered anymore.

The Cubs got runners on the corners without anyone out in the 2nd inning but didn't generate a run from that high-probability scenario, and then their bats went cold. Meanwhile, Eddie Butler, despite not looking particularly polished, was cruising through the first half of the game only to crumble in the 6th. A Josh Bell home run in the 5th had broken the shutout, but even then, Butler looked serviceable until the 2/3 mark in the game.

Butler got two outs after Adam Frazier led off with a single, but he could not get the last one. David Freese walked, and then Bell rung him up again. This time with a triple to tie the game. Pedro Strop came to the mound to take Butler's place and then gave up a go-ahead single to Andrew McCutchen. 4-3, Pirates, and it's looking like our night is ruined.

It took until the 9th for the Cubs to decide to hit again, and they did so mercilessly. Juan Nicasio was charged with disposing of the Chicago batters to secure Pittsburgh's win, but Jason Heyward gave him a rude introduction to the task with a double. Contreras doubled, too, and his scored Heyward. The game is tied now, and everything feels fine again.

And it would only get better. Tommy La Stella, up to take DL-ed Ben Zobrist's spot, single to advance Contreras to third, and then Nicasio intentionally walked Kris Bryant to load the bases and attempt to set up a double play. Jon Jay came in to pinch hit, Clint Hurdle went to Tony Watson to try and squash all of this, and then Jay singled. 5-4, Cubs, and the bases are still juiced with no outs. Then Rizzo, probably still fuming over the lost home run, singled too, and La Stella and Bryant were both able to score.

Two outs later Addison Russell doubled to score two more, and it's 9-4, Cubs. Jhan Martinez came in to end the madness for the Pirates, but it was already too late. Even a run scratched across against Wade Davis in the bottom of the 9th proved futile.

Cubs win, 9-5.

Source: FanGraphs

Hold on to your butts

I'm still betting on the Cubs to win this division. It's going to be close, and they might do it with 84 wins or so, but they're going to do it. They are a young team, and through mid-June we're seeing how that manifests itself even in a team that won 100+ games last season and the World Series. We have not been able to relax yet, and we probably won't ever.

Justin Grimm...he's so hot right now

Since returning from Triple-A Iowa, he's pitching like he is on a mission to never return to the Pacific Coast League, which is nice when Hector Rondon has become what he has become. Since his hiatus in Des Moines, Grimm has not given only two hits and no runs in 8 innings spread across 7 appearances.

Keep Rizzo at lead off...

...for now. It's working, or something. I don't know that the Cubs have a "true" leadoff hitter this year, and maybe Rizzo becomes the de facto one. I say stick with it for now.

Random Reference

Stumbled across this one today. Enjoy.

Three Stars of Game
Third Star- Addison Russell (1 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI)

Not a great night for him at the plate until that 9th inning double, but it was the dagger.

Second Star- Tommy La Stella (2 for 4, 2B, R)

He's the kind of player a team needs to plug in the holes when a starter goes down. We are lucky to have him.

First Star- Willson Contreras (2 for 3, 2 2B, BB, 3 RBI)

An outstanding night at the plate, especially the RBI double in the 9th.


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  • Glad they won this. Not sure why Davis had to be used. Now he will not be available til Monday.

  • The hitting in the 9th inning was a thing of beauty. I hope Maddon plays that video on a loop in the locker room for a few days. That is the type of baseball I want to see this team play. The way they took the pitch they were given & not trying to swing for the fence is why they were successful. Pirates were doing the same thing when they were making their comeback, until they started to swing for the fence. I think 3AM was the shot in the arm this team needed right now. Jay will also be another guy that can keep the inning going & guys advancing bases.

  • I know Joe gets banged on pretty good for his lineups and in particular Schwarber batting leadoff. I think Rizzo is giving Joe exactly what he thought Schwarber would give him. I thought it was a great idea when announced as I like having a run driving hitter at the lead off spot especially given how many runners the Cubs had on base from '16. Schwarbs just got off to.a bad start and needed to make some tweaks and you can't do that from lead off. It was still a good thought.

    Now "Bad Joe" -- why in the heck is Davis is that game? I don't care that we had a day off. The fresh thing is so over-rated. He has been throwing in games and off a mound for 3+months. He can take an extra day and still keep fresh. Closers always seem to get tagged for runs in those non-leverage situations. I really hate this type of closer management.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I agree with you about Rizzo in the lead off spot. Martinez was managing last night after Maddon was ejected, but I do think Maddon would of done the same thing if he'd of been in the game. I also didn't like leaving Butler in to face Bell hat the last time. Deunsing should of came in since Bell is hitting around .190 when he bats RH

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Maybe it was a Martinez decision, but I am of the thought that Madison is relaying from the clubhouse what needs to get done. I don't believe he is 120 feet away from the dugout enjoying some brewski's and/or with a nice dinner while the game is going on. I may be wrong and Joe can certainly be called unconventional.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I get so many auto corrects. Maddon, not Madison. LMAO.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    And the fact Rizzo has to be leading the league in hit by pitch means he will get on.

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