ARRIETA, CUBS SILENCE PIRATES IN WILD CARD WIN
TBS could have ran a re-run of the Pirates – Giants Wildcard game in 2014 for the first five innings of tonight’s wildcard game.
Pirates in 2014 vs Madison Bumgarner after five innings: 1 Hit, 7 strikeouts, trailed 4-0.
Pirates tonight vs Jake Arrieta after five innings: 1 hit, 8 strikeouts, trailed 4-0.
The Pirates for the second straight wildcard game were shutout in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Despite going up against a pitcher who was the most dominant in Major League history after the All-Star break, the Pirates felt this year was going to be different.
They were the more experienced team and unlike last year when they had Edinson Volquez on the mound, they were putting their ace on the mound in Gerrit Cole this time around.
The problem is Gerrit Cole’s a front of the rotation starter but not a No. 1 type pitcher like an Arrieta, Kershaw or Greinke. Cole is very good but not great like that bunch.
The script for Clint Hurdle’s Pirates’ tonight was have Cole go out and match Arrieta, play great defense, and get a timely hit or two. Get the bounces and win a low scoring game.
The Cubs script laid out by Joe Maddon was go out and get an early lead as orchestrated by Maddon’s lineup decisions in putting his best hitting lineup on the field and call it good night by the fifth or six inning with Arrieta on the mound.
The Pirates were forced to go off script and it started with Cole who missed his spots early in the first inning and not getting ahead. The dreaded scenario happened in the first inning with the Cubs going up 1-0 and then the dagger was Cole giving up a 2-run homer to Kyle Schwarber in the third inning that gave Chicago a commanding 3-0 lead with Arrieta on the mound.
The Cubs getting out to the early 3-0 lead had Hurdle rattled and going off script by pulling Sean Rodriguez before he took one at-bat and having Pedro Alvarez bat in the bottom of the third. All of the fuss about Alvarez not starting became a bunch of nothing and by the way Alvarez went 0-3 with three strikeouts.
Once the Cubs went up 3-0 in the third, it should have been the end of Cole’s night and Hurdle go into mode of pretty much using a DH the rest of the game in the No. 9 spot.
Yet after Alvarez strikes out to open the bottom half of the inning, Cole stays in to bat and pitches the next two innings.
Cole would throw a clean fourth but then Dexter Fowler homered in the fifth off Cole as it was game over.
Fowler and Schwarber went a combined 5-6 with 2 home runs, 4 RBIs vs Cole who exited after five innings. The rest of the Cubs vs Cole, 1-14.
On the Cubs side Joe Maddon was making all the right moves, going to a more defensive alignment in the sixth inning by moving Kris Bryant from left field to his normal position of third base.
Bryant came up with a key out in the sixth on a Gregory Polanco 107 mph line drive. The Pirates threatened Arrieta in the sixth but Arrieta got Starling Marte to hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play. In the seventh Bryant made another great play at third on a hard grounder hit by Aramis Ramirez for a double play to end the inning.
“At the end of the day everything we tried got shut down or pushed back,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Two of the four Pirates’ hits came from bench players, Travis Snider and Michael Morse.
It was that type of night for the Pirates with the biggest highlight being Sean Rodriguez obliterating a gatorade cooler after the benches cleared in the seventh.
For the Pirates Clint Hurdle’s lineup decisions were always going to be secondary and matter more for talks shows than anything.
The Pirates’ chances tonight were always going to be about Gerrit Cole and whether he had in him to strike some fear into the Cubs and Jake Arrieta.
Cole made it an easy night for Arrieta to just go out and do what he does.