Pirates 1, Cubs 0: No-RISP Hitting

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

You've heard this one before. But please, dear reader, delve inside for the not-so-nice details.

I'm getting tired of writing the same old recaps and I'm sure you're getting tired of reading them. (Perhaps alternative recaps are in our future, again.)

But write them I must, as you are here to discuss the Cubs' 1-0 loss to the Pirates, the second 1-0 defeat and third shutout of this still-fairly-young season, and the team's third straight loss. (Those numbers don't bode well, if they are repeated for the rest of this season.)

The summary is actually fairly brief; this game turned -- as so many Cubs games this year seem to have done -- on the team's ridiculously bad ability to get hits with runners in scoring position. Or, in this case, to cash in on a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation, this time in the third inning. Trailing 1-0, the Cubs loaded 'em on a Cody Ransom single, a Darwin Barney walk, and Jeff Samardzija reaching on an error on his attempted sacrifice bunt.

Now, this is your ideal situation if you're a manager. Bases loaded, top of the order coming up. I could write the words "What could go wrong?" But you've seen those too many times here before. You know what could go wrong, and it went wrong. Julio Borbon hit a lazy little grounder to first base that wasn't a double play only because of Borbon's speed. Then Francisco Liriano threw a whole bunch of pitches in the dirt to Starlin Castro. For some reason, Castro decided this would be a good time to swing at those, resulting in a strikeout. And Anthony Rizzo, who's in an awful slump -- now 0-for-his-last-14 with eight strikeouts -- flied to right.

Inning over, and as a Cubs fan, you knew you could turn the game off then, right? Because no Cubs team is going to come back from that, even just down by one run.

Fatalism. That's our lot in life as Cubs fans, like it or not.

The Cubs teased us in the ninth inning, facing Mark Melancon as closer (Jason Grilli was unavailable, having thrown 35 pitches Tuesday night). Melancon's WHIP coming into the game was 0.791, but Alfonso Soriano reached base leading off the inning -- on a strikeout where the ball bounced almost to the third-base dugout. One out later, Welington Castillo singled. Another runner in scoring position!

And... well, you know what happens next. If you didn't see it, two soft popups just behind the infield ended the game.

Give some credit to Francisco Liriano. He was really, really good. Jeff Samardzija pitched well, too, giving up just three hits. It just wasn't enough to overcome the complete lack of offense. Oh, and there was a Carlos Villanueva sighting -- the now clean-shaven Villanueva threw a scoreless eighth. (Would have been nice to see him in the sixth the night before.)

More words I've written many times before: "The Cubs will try to salvage one game of this three-game series." It'll happen at 11:35 a.m. CT. The game preview will be up at 10 a.m. CT.

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