Thursday, April 10, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Pirates 5, Cubs 4
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs lost the rubber game of the series to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, 5-4. Here's a quick look at the game:
How it happened: The Cubs bullpen ruined a nice effort by Travis Wood as the Pirates scored five runs in the seventh inning. The big blow was a go-ahead three-run homer by Pedro Alvarez. That was preceded by a two-run shot by pinch hitter Travis Snider. Just like that the Cubs' 4-0 lead was gone. Emilio Bonifacio's legs scored the first run of the game in the third inning when he came around from first on a throw into center field on a stolen base attempt. The Cubs added three more in the fourth on four singles, including RBI hits by Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo. Wood pitched into the seventh inning, giving up just one run which he wasn't even in the game to see cross the plate as Snider went deep off of Brian Schlitter soon after. Three batters later Alvarez left the park off James Russell.
What it means: The Cubs were on their way to a second consecutive solid win over the Pirates until the bullpen got involved. On paper the bullpen looked better heading into 2014 but several questions emerged toward the end of spring training and now it could be a fluid situation. Is Schlitter ready for prime time? And is Russell feeling the effects of leading the league in appearances among lefties the past two seasons? Even late-inning guys Pedro Strop and Jose Veras have struggled some in the early going. To be fair, this was the first complete meltdown by the bullpen in nine games, but the Cubs season was derailed early last season because of such happenings. So far there are mixed reviews. More important long term is Castro's day. He went 3 for 4, raising his batting average to .342.
Pitching rotation: Before the game manager Rick Renteria said there will be no change in the pitching rotation despite two off days next week. Pitchers will simply get extra days of rest.
Arrieta rehab start: Starter Jake Arrieta threw 3 2/3 shutout innings in a rehab start for Double-A Tennessee on Thursday afternoon. He gave up three hits and two walks while striking out four. He's due for at least one more start at Double-A.
What's next: The 3-6 Cubs start a five-game road trip with a weekend series in St. Louis. Jeff Samardzija takes on Joe Kelly at 7:15 p.m. CT Friday.