Coming into this game, the Cubs were searching for their fifth straight win and sole possession of first place in the NL Central (with a MIL loss). Kyle Hendricks took the mound and pitched well, but only lasted five innings, which put a lot of pressure on the bullpen. A Josh Harrison leadoff home run held as the only run of the ballgame until the Pirates opened things up in the sixth. Brian Duensing had a rare bad outing as he got into trouble in the sixth inning and that was the deciding factor in the game (Box Score).
Why the Cubs Lost
The offense never really got going in this one, as the Cubs only managed to get four hits. The Pirates’ offense finally woke up in the sixth inning as it scored five runs and put this game out of reach. It was a rare bad game for the Cubs bullpen, which has been very dependable all season.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Addison Russell reached base on a leadoff single, and that was followed up by Chris Gimenez reaching base on an error by Josh Harrison. That put men on first and second with zero outs and Tommy LaStella came to the plate as a pinch-hitter for Kyle Hendricks. LaStella grounded into a double play and Javy Baez struck out to end the Cubs’ best opportunity to string some runs together.
As previously mentioned, Brian Duensing came into to replace Kyle Hendricks in the sixth inning and was roughed up for four earned runs on two hits and two walks. With the Cubs offense struggling like it was, this was all that it took for this game to feel out of reach.
Stats That Matter
- Jason Heyward continued his hot streak of late, as he went 2-for-4 with a double and scored the Cubs lone run.
- Kyle Hendricks had a good outing today- 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K on just 86 pitches.
- The rough stretch for Kris Bryant continued today with the Cubs slugger going 0-4 with two strikeouts.
The Cubs ended this series on a sour note, but they still took two out of three games against the Pirates, which is good. They have now won five straight series as they head to Milwaukee for an important three game series. The Cubs will enter that series just a half game out of first place, so another series win would have the Cubs in sole possession of first place when they leave Milwaukee.
The Cubs open a three game set with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. Jose Quintana will take the mound for the Cubs, while right-hander Junior Guerra on the mound for Milwaukee. First pitch is slated for 7:10pm CT and will air on NBC Sports Chicago.