Sunday, June 22, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Pirates 2, Cubs 1
By Sahadev Sharma
Special to ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- A quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday at Wrigley Field.
How it happened: Travis Snider slugged Jason Hammel's first offering of the third inning just into the center field bleachers to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Hammel then walked Chris Stewart and after getting two quick outs Josh Harrison lined a single off of Hammel's right side allowing Stewart to trot in from third base and extend the Pirates' lead to two. Despite the long inning, Hammel quickly settled down and ended up tossing seven strong innings, giving up just the two runs on six hits, while striking out six and walking just one. Brandon Cumpton shut down the Cubs offense for seven innings, allowing just two singles. The Cubs got the first two men on in the eighth off lefty reliever Tony Watson, but after Travis Wood bunted in a pinch-hit appearance, Watson struck out pinch-hitters Welington Castillo and Justin Ruggiano to end the threat. Mark Melancon came in to close the game in the ninth and once again the first two batters of the innings reached. This time the Cubs were able to scratch across one run, but Melancon was able to retire Junior Lake to end the threat and the game and give the Pirates a 2-1 victory.
What it means: The Cubs have been playing better baseball of late, but dropped two straight to the Pirates. The loss meant the Cubs were unable to capitalize on the momentum they built after winning two straight series on the road.
Outside the box: The Cubs activated catcher Castillo of the disabled list and designated veteran backstop Eli Whiteside for assignment. With the move, the Cubs opened up a spot on the 40-man roster, allowing them to purchase the contract of pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada and option him to Triple-A Iowa, where he's been all season. Wada had an opt-out in his contract if he wasn't added to the 40-man roster and this allows the Cubs to keep the 33-year old lefty, who has delivered a 2.81 ERA with 83 strikeout and 23 walks in 86 2/3 innings.
Up next: Jeff Samardzija takes the mound Monday night against Alfredo Simon as the Cubs open a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds.