Before each game, Kristy Robinson and I try to predict the Pirates’ starting pitchers line. Today was A.J. Burnett. We both had Burnett going 7.2 innings and dominating the Cubs. As for the runs, I said I could see a few unearned runs coming and told Kristy that I felt a couple errors were going to happen that would cost the Pirates.
I had no idea it would be this bad however.
It started with a Brock Holt error in the first that would eventually lead to Luis Valbuena scoring. But for Holt, his mistakes failed in comparison to Starling Marte’s in the second inning.
Marte, in his first game back since being on the disabled list, would boot two balls in the second inning on routine plays and airmail a throw to the Pirates dugout. Thanks to the errors, the Cubs would score three that inning and take an early 4-0 lead.
“Nobody had on their to do list to let’s go out tonight and stink up the place in front of 32,000 fans,” Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle said. “They came out and played the game and we didn’t. We didn’t play it well at all.”
While any team would hate to end a game with three errors, the Pirates weren’t finished yet. It took Burnett and Co. seven Cubs’ batters to record an out in the sixth inning. A throwing error by Rod Barajas, was followed by one by Gaby Sanchez which led to the end of Burnett’s night.
Burnett gave up seven runs, but only three were earned.
To cap off the inning, Hurdle was ejected for the fourth time of the season tonight as Gary Darling missed a call at third base. Was Hurdle trying to spark his team?
“No. That didn’t even enter my thoughts,” Hurdle said. “I thought he was out.”
When Harrison committed the sixth error of the game in the seventh inning and Holt followed with his second of the game and the seventh of the game, the most for the Pirates since they had seven on September 16, 1985, it makes you wonder why both Holt and Harrison were playing middle infield for the Pirates. Burnett had a 2.14 ground ball to fly ball ratio and a 55.8 ground ball percentage entering the game. If they play Holt or Harrison, Clint Barmes or Jordy Mercer need to be in there to balance the below average gloves.
While the defense was terrible to be very generous, the bats weren’t much better. The Pirates repeated their cycle of making a bad pitcher look like a Cy Young candidate. Travis Wood, who earned the win for the Cubs, lost 10 decisions in a row previous to tonight’s game and surrendered 45 runs during that stretch.
The Pirates however, were only able to muster one hit through Wood’s six innings.
“It was physical execution. It wasn’t there. It was our worst game of the season,” Hurdle said. “We stunk tonight. There’s always a sense of pride you take on the field to play your best out there. Sometimes your best stinks.”
While you can’t expect any team in baseball to sweep another one, even one as inferior as the Cubs, this isn’t a great way to start a crucial September series. As Hurdle has preached all season, they have to take it one game at a time and focus on tomorrow.
“What we got to do is go attack the game tomorrow,” Hurdle said. “We’ve been pretty good at that this season.”
Speaking of tomorrow, the Cubs will send Jeff Samardzija (8-13, 3.91 ERA) to the hill for the final time before shutting him down for the season. The Pirates will counter with James McDonald (12-7, 3.90 ERA) who will need a pre-All-Star break performance. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. ET.
Photo Credits: US Presswire