Friday night’s Cubs win took three hours, 33 minutes and 356 total pitches between the two teams, mostly because the nine pitchers used couldn’t throw strikes — 16 total walks.
Saturday’s 6-0 Cubs loss to the Pirates ran an hour and seven minutes and more than 100 pitches shorter (250 total pitches). The loss, the 11th time the Cubs were shut out this year, ended a four-game winning streak.
Why did this one go so quickly? The pitchers threw strikes, mostly Johan Oviedo of the Pirates, who threw seven innings and allowed just three singles and no walks, striking out seven. Oviedo only once went to a three-ball count. This seems cogent, knowing what we know about Cardinals pixie dust:
Is it possible to watch Johan Oviedo pitch this well without wondering how much longer it'll be before St. Louis' developmental impact wears off? Nah?— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) September 25, 2022
So, I guess we’ll all find out about that. The Cubs are done facing Oviedo this year, but he should be a part of the Pirates rotation in 2023.
This game was moving along quickly, thanks to Oviedo throwing strikes and the usual fast work of Wade Miley, with the Pirates scoring a quick run off Miley in the top of the first. Still, it seemed as if the Cubs might get back into the game... until a disastrous bottom of the fifth.
Miley walked Ben Gamel to lead off the inning. Greg Allen laid down a bunt and Miley tried to get the lead runner and... oh, no, Wade [VIDEO].
Miley’s bad throw not only put runners on second and third, it put Miley out of the game. Here’s the injury report:
Wade Miley exited tonight's game with left oblique tightness. #Cubs— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 25, 2022
Obliques, as you know, are notoriously difficult to come back from, so that likely ends Miley’s season (which probably was only one more start anyway). Miley made only eight starts for the Cubs and had three separate stints on the IL with left elbow inflammation and twice with a left shoulder strain. I suppose if there’s someone else the Cubs want to take his last start, they could put him on the IL again.
Adbert Alzolay was in line for an extended relief outing anyway in this game, so he took his time warming up and did record the first out of the inning with the runners staying put, but then five pitches later Ji Hwan Bae doubled into the right-field corner and it was 3-0, and the way Oviedo was dealing that basically was that. It got worse when Alzolay hit Bryan Reynolds. He managed to record a force play for the second out, but then served up a three-run homer to Chicago-area native Jack Suwinski.
At 6-0 that really was it. Alzolay has had a rough go since returning, with one decent outing and two that weren’t so good. He’ll certainly get perhaps three or four more before the season ends.
What else do I have? David Bote made this nice diving catch in the first inning [VIDEO].
In the sixth, Patrick Wisdom hit a ball that went a long way, and would have been a home run in almost any other ballpark... but in PNC, it was just a loud third out.
Patrick Wisdom vs Johan Oviedo#ItsDifferentHere— Would it dong? (@would_it_dong) September 25, 2022
Exit velo: 97.9 mph
Launch angle: 41 deg
Proj. distance: 374 ft
This would have been a home run in 28/30 MLB ballparks
CHC (0) @ PIT (6)
Again, the way Oviedo was dealing, this was going to be a tough game to win anyway even if Miley hadn’t been hurt. So, tip your cap to the Pirates righthander, he threw a really good game.
With 10 games remaining, the Cubs now must go 7-3 to avoid losing 90 games. It’s still possible. They have to go 5-5 to win 71 games, which would avoid having three straight years (excluding 2020) with declining victory totals, which is pretty rare in franchise history, per our own JohnW53:
If they can reach 71 wins, the Cubs will avoid having fewer wins than the previous season for the third year in a row (omitting the shortened 2020 season).
They have had fewer wins at least 3 straight years only twice in the Expansion Era: 1963-66 (82, then 76, 72 and 59) and 2008-12 (97, then 83, 75, 71 and 61).
They also did it in 1910-16 (104 in first year, 67 in last), 1937-42 (93 in first year, 68 in last) and 1945-49 (98 in first year, 64 in last).
So there’s still something to shoot for, plus the Cubs can still come out of Pittsburgh with a series win with a victory Sunday afternoon. Adrian Sampson will start for the Cubs and rookie Luis Ortiz will start for Pittsburgh (his third MLB start). Game time is 12:35 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Today’s game preview will post at 11 a.m. CT.