Pirates 3, Cubs 0: Cold, And Reality, Bites

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

We knew the Cubs' offense would struggle at times this year. Wednesday night was one of those times. Players are doing all they can just to keep warm.

AMARILLO, Texas -- This is my traditional road overnight stop on the way back from Arizona to Chicago after spring training, and since I'm not in a blackout area (hooray!) I could watch tonight's game via MLB.TV.

Hey, Edwin Jackson pitched pretty well. Five innings, three hits allowed, two earned runs.

But Wandy Rodriguez -- a Cubs nemesis from his Astros days -- pitched better. One hit allowed in six innings, and the Cubs still haven't started 2-0 since 1995. The 3-0 loss to the Pirates dropped the Cubs to 1-1. But hey! They still have a chance to win the series Thursday afternoon, before moving their own roadshow to Atlanta for the weekend.

Alberto Gonzalez, who shouldn't even be on this roster -- he's only here because of the Saturday exhibition-game injury to Darwin Barney -- got the first Cubs hit of the game, a single. That's good, at least; it keeps the no-no-hit streak going, now at 7,503 straight games. Gonzalez had the chance to be a hero in the seventh when he came up with the bases loaded and two out, and ran a 3-0 count on Tony Watson. But he took two fairly close pitches for strikes and then popped to center field. Obviously, Gonzalez, who has a career .595 OPS and 61 OPS+, is just warming the spot until Barney comes back. Barney might not be that much of an offensive player, but somehow, I think he would have taken advantage of that situation in a way that a journeyman like Gonzalez couldn't. (Yet another reason to perhaps give that spot to Logan Watkins.)

I don't think this is necessarily an indication of how the offense is going to work this year. Remember, the Cubs gave up only two runs; so far, the pitching's been pretty good. Hector Rondon looked solid in his major-league debut, getting out of a jam he pitched himself into with a pair of walks. Michael Bowden, not quite as good, getting hit fairly hard by a couple of Pirates, generating their third run before Welington Castillo threw Starling Marte out on a stolen-base attempt (really nice throw, Welington). But overall, it's cold and neither team hit very much Wednesday night.

I'm kind of out of words here except for clichés, so here are some:

  • "You can't win 'em all."
  • "We'll get 'em tomorrow."
  • "You can't score if you don't hit."
  • (Insert your favorite cliché here.)

The Cubs will play again in a little more than 14 hours from the time of this recap posting, begging the question of why they attempt to play night games in Pittsburgh the first week of April (Day game, off day, night game, day game. And you think the Cubs' home schedule is weird.) For that matter, why are they playing two night games in Chicago next week? Even the White Sox bowed to the reality of April weather in Chicago and scheduled just one night game out of their first six-game homestand. Meanwhile, the Cubs will play four home night games by April 17. Yeah, I know, TV ratings and all, but still.

The weather is expected to be a bit better in Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon; the forecast is for sunshine and 55 degrees. Let's hope the Cubs play baseball better, too. Travis Wood will face James McDonald.

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