By Paul Ladewski
There was a silver lining for the Pirates on an otherwise miserable evening in Chicago on Tuesday.
The Pirates lost a rain-shortened baseball game against the Cubs at cold, rainy Wrigley Field, 6-1, but at least they got their closer back.
Struck on his pitching arm by a line drive one night earlier, Matt Capps breathed easier to report that x-rays had revealed no structural damage.
“Right now, I’m very encouraged,” said Capps, who could return to action before the end of the week. “It’s pretty sore right now. Definitely, this is by far the best scenario that it could have been.
Capps dodged a bullet almost literally. Red stitch marks were still visible just below his right elbow, where a Geovany Soto rocket drove him from the mound in the ninth inning only hours earlier.
“It sounded like a shotgun went off three feet away from me,” Capps recalled. “It was just really loud.
“I didn’t feel anything in my elbow. I had a shooting pain running down my forearm, ring finger and pinkie finger. Then they went kind of numb and my elbow started to hurt.
As Capps was escorted to the dugout, he saw his career flash in front of him.
“I wondered if I would ever throw again,” Capps admitted. “I thought for sure that my elbow was shattered, everything was blown up in there. I couldn’t move my fingers. I couldn’t my hand. I was kind of in shock, disbelief.”
In the trainer’s room, Capps fears subsided when he was informed that ball had struck a nerve in a way that did not cause significant damage to the elbow. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for further examination.
Before the game was postponed after 5 innings because of a steady downpour, Pirates starter Ian Snell (1-6) struggled to find his command in the wet conditions. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks in five innings, as his earned run average ballooned to 5.43 this season.
Starter Sean Marshall (3-3) scattered four hits to earn the victory, the first for the Cubs after eight consecutive losses.
The Pirates (21-25) plated their only run on a Robinzon Diaz single in the fourth inning.
The Cubs scored single runs in each of the first three innings, all of them on two-out hits — a Kosuke Fukudome home run, a Marshall single and a Micah Hoffpauir double. They added three more runs in the fifth inning.