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Pirates 5, Cubs 2: Warm it up, please

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Cubs bats were as cold as the weather.

] Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

In the end, it might as well have rained.

On a windy, 40-degree night at Wrigley Field, Cubs hitters couldn’t get untracked and they lost the second of their three-game series to the Pirates, 5-2.

Yu Darvish started well enough, even though he gave up three runs in the first four innings. Those resulted from three bad pitches: a home run served up to Francisco Cervelli, a pitch that got away and hit Pirates pitcher Jordan Lyles (nothing good ever comes from putting the opposing pitcher on base), and that was followed by another home run by Starling Marte.

Meanwhile, the Cubs could do little with Lyles. They did put runners on second and third on singles by Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. followed by a wild pitch in the third. But Darvish and Daniel Descalso struck out and Kris Bryant hit a lazy fly to center and that’s as close as the Cubs came to scoring in the first four innings.

With one out in the fifth and an 0-1 count on Heyward, Lyles hung a curveball [VIDEO].

That ball was hit a long way through a very tough wind:

That tweet says it was Heyward’s third home run, but it’s actually his fourth. That’s half as many homers as he hit all of last year, and the last time he hit four home runs in a calendar month was June 2015, when he had four with the Cardinals — and there are still 17 games left this month. In a year that hasn’t had much to celebrate so far, definitely celebrate Heyward. Hopefully, this lasts all year.

That made the score 3-1, but Darvish allowed two hits after getting the first out in the sixth and was removed in favor of Kyle Ryan. I suppose that was the right by-the-book thing to do, a lefthander to face Josh Bell, but Ryan came in and was awful. A single by Bell made it 4-1, and then, inexplicably, Ryan made a pickoff attempt on Bell, a man who has four career stolen bases in 14 attempts. It looked like Anthony Rizzo wasn’t expecting any such thing, the ball got away, and the Pirates’ fifth run scored [VIDEO].

Of course, the runs that scored in that inning were both charged to Darvish, so the bullpen’s “scoreless streak” is intact, as Cubs relievers threw 3⅔ innings and officially allowed no runs, with four strikeouts. One of those relievers was Tyler Chatwood, who was reasonably effective in the eighth inning, one single and one walk allowed, with no runs and a strikeout. It’s been said that Chatwood might start Sunday’s game with Jon Lester on the injured list, but I wonder about him doing that on three days’ rest after 27 pitches in this one.

The Cubs did score one more run in the eighth. Bryant singled, Rizzo walked and Javier Baez came up next [VIDEO].

Baez’s nicely-placed double made it 5-2 and brought the tying run to the plate in the person of Kyle Schwarber. The Pirates countered with their lefthanded closer Felipe Vazquez . Schwarber wasn’t having a good night anyway — three K’s before the eighth, and Vazquez laid the golden sombrero on him with strikeout number four. Then Vazquez allowed a leadoff single to Heyward in the ninth, but struck out the side to end it.

Darvish didn’t pitch badly... he just didn’t pitch that well, either. At least he didn’t walk anyone in this game, so there are signs of improvement.

Of the announced 32,798, maybe 12,000 showed up and maybe 1,000 remained at the end. Comparing this game to the April 14 weather awfulness of last year, this was quite a bit better (though still not “good”) — less windy, not quite as cold, and dry after some rainshowers went through the area about 4 p.m. Also, this happened:

Those lights finally went on during the middle innings. It got noticeably brighter on the field when that happened.

Meanwhile, the weather forecast for tonight does not sound conducive to baseball:

Tonight

Showers and thunderstorms before 4am, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm between 4am and 5am, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 5am. Low around 46. Windy, with a south southeast wind 20 to 30 mph becoming south southwest 10 to 20 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

There was a report that discussions about postponing Thursday’s game had happened during the day Tuesday and that Cubs players were asked if they would give up the extra off day after the All-Star break (Thursday, July 11) to make up the game. That’s right before the Pirates’ next visit to Wrigley. Word is that Cubs players rejected this suggestion. The teams have a mutual off day next Thursday (April 18) where the game could be played without breaking the 20-day rule and without any major travel issues (Cubs are returning home from Miami the previous night and the Pirates are in Detroit). The other issue for the Cubs regarding tonight’s game is that there’s an afternoon game at Wrigley Friday and I’m reasonably certain the Cubs wouldn’t want to sit through hours of rain delay tonight and then have to arrive early Friday for a day game.

So we will see. In the meantime, I’d like to thank the Angels for sweeping the Brewers and outscoring them 20-12 in their three-game series which concluded Wednesday night. The Cubs might be 3-8 right now, but that can still turn around quickly.

Let’s hope it starts tonight, weather permitting. Jose Quintana is the Cubs’ scheduled starter and Joe Musgrove will go for the Pirates. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.