By Paul Ladewski
CHICAGO – Believe it or not, there was a silver lining in the Pirates’ latest embarrassment, a 17-2 rout at the hands of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.
At least the Cubs still haven’t exacted payback for the 22-0 loss that the Pirates hung on them in the 1975 season.
That was about all that the Pirates could take out of the gruesome defeat, which reduced their Tragic Number to 13. That number of losses that will ensure their 17th consecutive sub-.500 finish, which would set a major league record.
Other than that, manager John Russell, how did you like the game?
“Oh, it was great,” Russell said facetiously. “I loved it.”
For the first time since the 1906 season, the Cubs scored 14 runs in the first two innings.
How bad was it? First baseman Derrek Lee came to the plate with the bases loaded three times. He led a 18-hit attack with three hits and seven RBI.
“It was a tough day,” Russell went on to say. “The game was over pretty quickly.”
The Cubs ambushed starter Charlie Morton for 10 runs on seven hits and three walks in one inning. The carnage continued against reliever Chris Bootcheck, who was lit up for seven runs in 2 ½ innings.
Steven Jackson saved the bullpen with 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“I didn’t to anything right. Today was just embarrassing,” said Morton, who saw his earned run average zoom from 3.81 1to 5.51 in a matter of minutes. “There’s nothing to take from it other than knowing that I need to bounce back.”
Few were more frustrated than first baseman Garrett Jones, who grew up a White Sox fan in the south suburbs. Dozens of his friends and family members were in attendance.
“You try not to overanalyze it,” Jones said of the 11th loss in the last 12 games. “We fell behind early and couldn’t catch up. It was one of those days.”
The Pirates have had a lot of those days lately.