Sometimes, you have to tip your cap to the other guy in a baseball game and say, "Hey, nice work."
That's what we can all take away from Saturday's 6-2 Cubs loss to the Pirates on a pleasant, but unseasonably cool day at Wrigley Field.
Burnett dominated the first eight innings, giving up just a bouncing double down the right-field line by Nate Schierholtz leading off the fifth inning (that one extended the Cubs' no-no-hit streak to 7,560 games), and a single by David DeJesus in the sixth, to a similar location. That, and three walks, were the Cubs' only baserunners through eight. Burnett was dominant enough that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sent him out to try to complete his shutout -- which would have been the Pirates' 11th of the year, in just 62 games -- but after Anthony Rizzo singled to left field with one out in the ninth, Alfonso Soriano launched a ball that was last seen bouncing north on Kenmore Avenue. It was Soriano's seventh home run of the season, and first in June.
It's beginning to look like the Pirates are for real. Perhaps, then, one of the best free-agent signings of the offseason was the Pirates' signing of Russell Martin. Not only has Martin produced offensively -- he hit his seventh homer of the season to put the game out of reach in the eighth inning -- but he appears to have contributed mightily to the success of the Pittsburgh pitching staff this season. Martin signed a two-year, $17 million deal that looks like it's going to be a huge bargain for the Pirates.
Pedro Alvarez also hit a two-run homer that was launched over the party patio in right field that landed on Sheffield, in the fourth inning. Jeff Samardzija's outing wasn't horrendous -- six innings, eight hits, four runs, just one walk and seven strikeouts -- but he struggled through some long counts in the early innings, and barely made it through the sixth.
The crowd started to thin out after Martin's home run, likely headed either to the United Center to see the Blackhawks game, or to one of the local bars to watch it on television. Think of it this way: the two-hour, 53-minute game was at least completed in a reasonable amount of time -- the Blue Jays and Rangers, and Mets and Marlins, both played games that lasted at least 18 innings, and the Mets/Marlins game went 20 (and almost six and a half hours), the first 20-inning game in the major leagues in more than three years (this game; that one also involved the Mets). The Cubs are in New York next weekend to face the Mets -- maybe they better get some extra rest, if they can.
Edwin Jackson, who's been awful this year, will face the Pirates' Jeff Locke Sunday as the Cubs try to salvage one game out of this series. That matchup doesn't appear too good on its face, but you never know when it comes to baseball. That's one reason this game is so great. You just never know what's going to happen on any given day. Till tomorrow.