The Cubs were the last team in baseball to have their home opener, then they had to wait another day due to weather. Finally, Tuesday, they got underway and the results were less then ideal. The Cubs actually jumped out to separate one-run leads in the 1st and 2nd innings before Pittsburgh jumped ahead for good in the 3rd.
While Tyler Chatwood had some bad luck, he also made some mistakes that were not missed. Ivan Nova was lights-out once Pittsburgh got the lead, going seven strong innings. At one point, the Pirates built the advantage to 8-2. The Cubs got the tying run to the plate in the 8th inning, but that’s as close as they got. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
After Chatwood allowed five runs in his outing, the bullpen needed to keep the Pirates in check. Unfortunately, Mike Montgomery allowed three insurance runs to score. Those runs turned out to be the winning margin.
Francisco Cervelli came to the plate in the top of the 7th with two men on base and hit a long home run to left-center. The three-run jack increased the Pirates’ lead to 8-2.
Stats That Matter
- Chatwood cut way down on the walks, the problem was that the hits went up: 5 IP, 5 R, 9 H, 7 K, and 1 BB. There were some infield hits that found the perfect spot, but there were also were some hard-hit balls. Starling Marte’s homer in the 4th stands out.
- Javy Baez hit two bombs against Nova, pretty much the only well-struck balls he allowed. The problem for the Cubs was both were solo shots and Javy struck out as the tying run in the 8th. It was still nice to see Baez find the power stroke.
- Willson Contreras had three more hits on Tuesday, including a double. He should be a force in the middle of the lineup all season.
The Pirates offense looks very good. If the young hitters in that lineup reach their potential, the Pirates might hang in the race. This will be something to keep an eye on going forward.
Game two of the three-game series is Wednesday night at 7:05pm CT. It’s a battle of lefties as Jon Lester takes on Steven Brault. Television coverage is available on WGN.