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Pirates 8, Cubs 7: The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing In The Wind

Saturday was a warm summer day at Wrigley with the wind blowing out. This did not help the Cubs.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

You could tell it was going to be one of those days as soon as the day dawned. Look at the way the wind was blowing out on Saturday right after the gates opened (and it didn’t change all afternoon):

Al Yellon

Kris Bryant didn’t need any help from any wind with this blast:


The ball hit the bottom of the left-field video board with Kyle Schwarber on base to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. They scored two more in the inning, thanks to an error, a triple by Addison Russell and single by Jason Heyward (nice piece of hitting, going the opposite way).

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the wind did help four Pirates homers, including a three-run blast by Andrew McCutchen. All four of those homers would have stayed in the park on days earlier this week. The 24 mile-per-hour southwest wind put them all in the bleachers. The Cubs blew leads of 4-0 and 6-2 and lost to the Pirates 8-7 despite Bryant smashing a second home run in the ninth inning, that one wind-aided. Overall the teams combined for six homers.

This one, I’m going to chalk up to bullpen failure. I was a bit surprised when Joe Maddon pulled Jake Arrieta with two out and nobody on in the sixth inning, even though he had allowed a homer to Starling Marte earlier in the inning. Jake was at 98 pitches and probably could have retired one more hitter. I suppose Joe wanted lefthander Brian Duensing to face switch-hitting Josh Bell, to turn him around to the right side. It worked, as Duensing got Bell to ground out. Then Duensing got a quick first out in the seventh before disaster struck.

Josh Harrison homered to make it 6-4, and Alen Hanson singled. Duensing recorded a second out on a nice play by Heyward in center field, but then Hanson stole second and scored on a single by Adam Frazier to make it 6-5.

In came Pedro Strop to face the righthanded Marte, as well as McCutchen. Strop walked Marte, setting up McCutchen’s homer that gave the Pirates an 8-6 lead.

The Cubs had chances to put the game away early. The scored a pair in the third for that 6-2 lead and had Russell on third with one out, but he was cut down at the plate on an infield grounder.

The Cubs also had the bases loaded with two out in the fifth, but could not score.

Pirates relievers Trevor Williams, Juan Nicasio and Daniel Hudson shut the Cubs down on just two singles through the sixth, seventh and eighth.

Bryant’s blast in the ninth gave the sellout crowd some hope, and Ben Zobrist walked with two out to put the tying run on base, but Tony Watson got Russell swinging to end it.

The Cubs thus lose their first series of the year and have their first losing streak. I think the lesson learned here, especially on a day with the wind blowing out the way it was, is that you really have to put your opponent away when you have big leads early.

Before the game I had a walk around to the plaza to have a look at the new trophy room and the Jostens jewelry store. There were about 50 people waiting in line for photos with the trophy. My understanding is that this will be available most days as long as the trophy isn’t out on tour. I also took some photos of the special championship rings that were made in honor of Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, on display at the Jostens store:

The story of the game was the wind, as Joe sums up:

On the other hand, if Strop doesn’t walk Marte before McCutchen’s homer, maybe they’re still playing at Wrigley. From Joe:

These things are going to happen. The Pirates are a talented ballclub. And, as defending champions, everyone’s going after the Cubs. They will need to step up and show they can handle this. I suspect they will.

The weather was beautiful for mid-April, 81 degrees with that strong wind howling straight out to center field. There were probably 3,000 or more people in line at Wrigley when the gates opened for this giveaway:

It’s really quite nice, about seven inches tall and with a strong metal base. The flags are plastic, but the whole thing is very well done.

Let’s hope the Cubs can bring us another one soon. In the meantime, the business at hand is salvaging the final game of this series, Sunday afternoon at 1:20 CT. It’ll be Jon Lester facing Jameson Taillon.