Nothing ultimately changed after tonight's loss. The Cubs fortunes in 2019 and 2020 are exactly the same as they would be if they had won, but the extended goodbye to a golden era of Cubs baseball continued. This time it was Jose Quintana's possible turn. It was once an unthinkable notion, but the potentially cash strapped Cubs might be in the position to decline the club friendly options they hold on Quintana. If that was Q's last start it was a fitting if disappointing note to end his Cubs career on. Nothing was learned tonight one way or the other about the 2020 Cubs, and it is a hard goodbye to continue to have to make this season.
Q continued his downward spiral with a first inning lead surrendered. Jose Quintana retired the first two batters he faced but Melky Cabrera and Jose Osuna hit back to back singles to extend the inning. Pablo Reyes tripled the pair in to give the Pirates an early 2-0 lead.
Joe Musgrove dominated the Cubs lineup once again. The Cubs could not manage a base hit for four whole innings against the big right hander. Robel Garcia drew a two out walk in the first inning. That would be the only Cubs base runner until David Bote singled with one out in the fifth inning.
The top of the Pirates order delivered in the bottom of the third inning. Kevin Newman led off with a single. Adam Frazier singled back up the middle. Cabrera struck out swinging, but Jose Osuna's double extended the Pirates lead to four runs. Pablo Reyes singled but Osuna was thrown out at the plate for the second out. Jacob Stallings ripped a single to score Reyes making it a 5-0 game.
The Pirates continued their odd inning trend with Osuna and Reyes combining for a two out rally. Reyes ground rule double put the pair in scoring position. Jacob Stallings reached on a tough luck error on Addison Russell. Jake Elmore singled, and that put the Pirate advantage to seven runs.
Daniel Descalso pinch hit for Quintana in the top of the sixth inning and he reached base on catcher's interference. Tony Kemp drew a walk from Musgrove. Ian Happ doubled and the Cubs had two runs with no outs. Garcia struck out swinging for the first out. Victor Caratini singled and Jonathan Lucroy drove in Happ on a groundout. David Bote was caught looking to end the inning with the Cubs now down 7-3.
David Underwood Jr. was tasked with keeping the Cubs in the game, but Corban Joseph smacked a pinch hit double to start the bottom half of the frame. He scored on Adam Frazier's one out single. Melky Cabrera doubled to score Frazier to push the Pirates back to 9 runs against Cubs pitchers. Underwood managed to retire Osuna and Reyes for the first time to end the inning, but it was a 9-3 ballgame.
Addison Russell greeted new pitcher Chris Stratton with a single. Albert Almora Jr. and Daniel Descalso flew out for the next two plate appearances, but pesky Tony Kemp roped a double into left to score Russell. Nico Hoerner dumped a single into shallow center to score Kemp making it a 9-5 game. Williams Jerez struck out Robel Garcia to end the seventh.
Dillon Maples pitched a clean seventh for the Cubs. Jerez faced two batters in the top of the eighth issuing a one out walk to Jonathan Lucroy. Parker Markel was summoned and got David Bote to hit into an inning ending double play. That at least made Rob Manfred happy with a few quick innings to shave some time off the clock. James Norwood worked around a one out walk and two out single to give the Cubs a chance in the ninth.
The Cubs could not even muster a tease rally against Parker Markel in the ninth. The Cubs went in order as they lost their ninth straight game. The Cubs leave Pittsburgh still in free fall.
There is a certain awful symmetry to the 2019 campaign. The season began with a terrible skid and it is going to end with an even bigger thud. The streak of 90 plus wins and playoff appearances is history. The losing streak meanwhile has hit nine.