Just after the Cubs put together their really nice five-run eighth-inning rally to take a 7-6 lead over the Pirates Thursday afternoon, I asked myself the question: “Can this team get six outs without giving up a run?”
Turned out they couldn’t even throw one pitch without giving up a run. Michael Chavis hit David Robertson’s first pitch in the bottom of the eighth out of PNC Park to tie the game, and a bloop single to right off Scott Effross in the 10th gave the Pirates an 8-7 win and the Cubs their 14th loss in their last 17 games. The loss also dropped the Cubs to 2-6 in extra innings this year and 7-15 in one-run games.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The game was delayed about six minutes in the bottom of the first inning. Here’s what we saw [VIDEO].
Here’s what we learned about that late in the game:
The Cubs dealt with a medical situation with a staff member in the bullpen, and the team will provide an update when it can.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 23, 2022
And here’s the update:
Cubs bullpen coach Chris Young became lightheaded in bullpen during the first inning, prompting a visit from trainers and the brief delay in the game.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 23, 2022
Young went to a hospital, got checked out and is going to be alright, David Ross says.
Glad he’s okay, hope for a speedy recovery.
Returning to the game: Bryan Reynolds homered off Justin Steele in the bottom of the first, but the Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the third inning. Nico Hoerner singled, Nelson Velázquez walked and P.J. Higgins singled to load the bases. One out later, this force out tied the game [VIDEO].
Ke’Bryan Hayes smacked a two-run homer off Steele in the bottom of the inning to give the Bucs the lead back at 3-2. In the fifth, a pair of Cubs errors gave Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead and they made it 6-2 in the sixth with three straight hits, all after the first two Pirates were routine outs. Another Cubs error happened in that inning, extending the inning even though no more runs scored.
The Cubs are going to have to do something about this, because even though these misplays don’t necessarily result in runs, they do result in pitchers having to throw extra pitches, putting more pressure on the bullpen. This might be the worst Cubs defensive team I’ve ever seen.
During this time, even though it did not lead to a run, Velázquez did something that you need to see. Here, watch [VIDEO].
There’s no way Velázquez should have tried for second base on that play. But he did, and he made a Javy Báez-style swim move and was safe.
Talent and baseball smarts like this deserve more playing time. Play him. Every day. Bringing up a guy like this from Iowa and sitting him on the bench to only face lefties — I simply don’t get it.
Anyway, it’s 6-2 Pirates heading to the eighth and I was thinking sad thoughts about having to write about another loss (which did happen anyway!) when the Cubs put together one of their best rallies of the entire season.
Christopher Morel led off with a single and Willson Contreras walked. Ian Happ hit into a force play, putting runners on first and third. Patrick Wisdom made it 6-3 with this hit [VIDEO].
One out later, Jonathan Villar walked to load the bases, and Nico Hoerner singled in a pair [VIDEO].
Well. Now it’s 6-5 and actually interesting, and Rafael Ortega then walked to re-load the bases.
If you’re keeping track, that’s three hits with runners in scoring position in that inning alone, two of them with the bases loaded. That’s good! The Cubs going 5-for-18 overall in this game with RISP? That’s... not good.
Anyway, here’s where we came in, with the Cubs with the lead and six outs to go, only that lead disappeared one pitch into the eighth. No one else scored in the eighth or ninth and so they went to Manfred man extras.
The Cubs had a chance in the top of the 10th. Placed runner Wisdom advanced to third on a fly to right, and then tried to score on a ground ball to the right side [VIDEO].
The Cubs challenged the call and I thought they were right — if you look closely, it looks like Wisdom’s foot touches the plate before he was tagged — but the replay crew disagreed, and so the game went to the bottom of the 10th, where an intentional walk was issued to Reynolds to try to set up a force play. Scott Effross struck out Diego Castillo, but then Chavis blooped that ball beyond first, and the game was over.
The five-run Cubs eighth was the seventh time this year they have scored five or more in an inning, per the Marquee broadcast. Six of those seven have been against the Pirates (the other was in an 11-4 win over the Reds May 24). The Cubs are now 5-8 against the Pirates this year, but have outscored them 74-54 in the 13 games.
New 2022 Cubs slogan: “Go Figure!”
ICYMI, there were two bits of Cubs news earlier Thursday which I did not put in separate articles here:
- Ethan Roberts will have Tommy John surgery, ending his 2022 season. He’s got lots of talent, here’s to a quick rehab process and return.
- The Cubs recalled Adrian Sampson from Triple-A Iowa and placed Daniel Norris on the 15-day injured list with a strain in his left index finger.
The road trip continues Friday evening in St. Louis with the opener of a three-game series. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Andre Pallante will go for St. Louis, and “Andre Pallante” was a French Impressionist painter from the 1880s, right? (No? Sounds like he should be.) Game time Friday is 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Apple TV+.