CHICAGO- The Cubs committed 1 error in their first 399 chances equaling 11 games...they've now committed 6 in their last 4 games. Free agent signee Jonathan Villar is responsible for 57% of those. This is what happens when your other free agent signee Andrelton Simmons hasn't made his debut (still rehabbing a shoulder injury) and you want to make sure you get Nico Hoerner off days here and there to keep him as healthy as possible.
The Cubs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of 1 but the Pirates came right back with one in the top of 2, two in the top of 3 and one in the top of 4 en route to a 4-3 win at Wrigley Field.
They finish the 7 game homestand 2-5 and are now 7-9 overall as they head to Atlanta for a 4 game set against the reigning World Series Champion Braves beginning Tuesday evening. Today marks the end of a stretch where the Cubs played 16 games in 18 days.
The Cubs threatened in the bottom of 7 with runners on the corners and no outs but a Nick Madrigal strikeout looking + a Rafael Ortega foul out to third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes+ a Seiya Suzuki line out to center left the runners stranded. Ian Happ registered his first long ball of the year in the bottom of 8 to cut the lead to 4-3. There was another chance to tie the game or take the lead with runners on first and second with two outs. Pirates reliever Chris Stratton made the adjustment after throwing Patrick Wisdom 5 consecutive breaking balls...he went with back to back fastballs up in the zone and got Wisdom swinging on the latter to end the threat.
In the bottom of 9, Ortega doubled with one out and Suzuki followed that with a bloop 2 bagger of his own but Ortega wasn't sure if it would drop so he stopped at third. Reliever David Bednar got Willson Contreras on a piece of 98 mph high inside cheese, intentionally walked Ian Happ to load the bases and Bednar told Frank Schwindel to man up and hit this 98 mph gas if you can striking him out on 3 straight fastballs to end the game.
The Cubs left 10 runners stranded this afternoon and even though they outscored the Pirates 29-12, they lose the 4 game set 3-1.
Manager David Ross said it was an all hands on deck day (with an off day tomorrow/night game Tuesday) to try and take a win on the road. "Yesterday's performance from our starting pitcher (Kyle Hendricks) and the bullpen allowed us to give two days off for the back end guys and then with the off day (Monday) you've got a little bit of freedom there to be a little more aggressive," he said.
Justin Steele suffered his second loss of the year, only lasting three innings. He gave up 3 runs, 4 hits, walked 4 and struck out 2 on 79 pitches. "I lost command of my four seam (fastball) as the 2nd/3rd inning went on. I got a little tired and my front side was leaking out. My arm didn't have time to catch up with me," Steele said. Not sure if that's something I would've given writers to gobble up but at least he's honest and knows there's a long road ahead if he wants to continue to take the bump every five days.
Wisdom aka #PWizzy (1-4) has been on a hot streak since his 1-21 start to the season. He's 11-27 (.407) in his last 8 games with 5 doubles, 2 HRs 8 RBI and 5 walks. "I was pressing a little but not getting results right away because as hitters you know we wanna get hits and produce runs. I was able to relax like I did in Colorado and just let it flow and get back to it," he said. He's also been big for David Ross defensively as he's played center field, left field and third base through the first 18 games. "Wherever he asks me to play I'm going to grab my glove and get out there. It's baseball."
*Reliever David Robertson threw another 1.1 scoreless innings making that 7 straight scoreless appearances. He has 8 strikeouts in 7.1 innings.