Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Pirates 5, Cubs 4
By Jesse Rogers
Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park.
How it happened: Anthony Rizzo struck out with the tying run on third base in the ninth inning after Starlin Castro singled home Darwin Barney to pull the Cubs within one. After a great performance by Matt Garza in his season debut, the Cubs' 3-0 lead quickly evaporated due to the bullpen combination of Hector Rondon, James Russell and Shawn Camp. The latter of the three gave up a grand slam to pinch-hitter Travis Snider in the sixth inning after Russell walked in a run. The Cubs jumped on starter Wandy Rodriguez, plating their runs in the second inning. Darwin Barney had an RBI single, followed by a two-run double by Garza, but that’s all the offense they would muster until the ninth. Barney went 4-for-4 on the night. Garza threw five shutout innings, giving up just one hit while walking three.
Garza’s debut: Garza's stuff looked great. He threw 82 pitches: 47 fastballs, 26 sliders, seven curveballs and two change-ups.Though he went to full counts on seven hitters, it didn’t come back to bite him despite the three walks. He pitched, not just threw, and was rewarded with five strikeouts and just one hit given up. No one knows if Garza is a Cub long-term or how he’ll pitch once the adrenaline of his comeback wears off, but for the moment he seems to have returned as a top-of-the-rotation guy.
What it means: Despite another bullpen meltdown, it’s great news for the Cubs and Garza. His average fastball registered at 93.5 mph, exactly the same as last year before his injury. He’ll go longer than 82 pitches next time out and that can only be a good thing considering the bullpen woes this year. To make room for Garza, Michael Bowden was designated for assignment before the game. Shouldn’t he be wondering why him and not Camp?
Outside the box: Cubs pitchers have 13 RBIs this month and eight extra-base hits for the season. That’s four more than any other pitching staff in the majors. ... The Cubs' 2012 first-round pick, Albert Almora, will report to Class-A Kane County on Wednesday to begin his season. He’s been sidelined with a wrist injury since the end of spring training.
What’s next: The series continues on Wednesday when Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 3.49 ERA) takes on Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64) in a 6:05 CT start.