Game 156 Recap: Pirates 5, Cubs 1

Early on in tonight’s game, the Cubs telecast showed a clip of the Pirates’ three runs wild pitch from yesterday. And as the horror show unfolded before his eyes, Pittsburgh play by play man Greg Brown cried out, “That is AWFUL. Oh my goodness, is this AWFUL! That’s DISGRACEFUL.”

It was a confusing moment for Bucs fans. Because it was the first time since 2014 that the Pirates’ broadcast team used those words to describe anything other than Javy Báez having fun.

Next thing you know, tomorrow you’ll see an e-mail in your inbox with the subject line: “I’m Clint Hurdle for the ACLU…”

What You Need to Know: Unfortunately, that bit of schadenfreude was pretty much the sole highlight on a night when the Cubs were looking to reduce their magic number to four and…well…didn’t. Let’s start with a baseball DID YOU KNOW…

…that the Pirates lost 12-4 on May 1? And 17-1 on July 2? And 13-6 as recently as yesterday?

I bring this up to prove that it is indeed possible to score more than one run in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I know that right now it’s as conceivable as getting involved in a land war in Asia or going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. Nonetheless, there it is. The Cubs should try to be like that team that beat the Pirates 9-2 on August 1 which appears to be…the Chicago National League Ballclub?

Judging by the final score, I can only assume that contest went 81 innings.

For the first two-thirds of tonight’s game, Cole Hamels and Jameson Taillon made it look like this would be the most well-pitched matchup since Hamels took on Max Scherzer back in August. Both pitchers gave up home runs early. It just so happened that Hamels gave up his with a runner on. 

The Cubs were only down 2-1 in the sixth, but the Pirates pushed across insurance runs with an infuriating number of two-out RBIs in the sixth, seventh, and ninth. The Cubs had a couple of two-out opportunities themselves, loading the bases in the fifth and putting runners at the corners in the sixth. 

Sadly, in both instances, their bats drank from the goblet without first building up a resistance to iocaine.

Next Level: At this point in the year, Francisco Cervelli is exactly like these MFing snakes on this MFing plane. 

I’ve had it with him.

In ordinary circumstances, Cervelli is a perfectly fine if unremarkable catcher. He’s currently slashing .256/.376/.419. That’s slightly better than Willson Contreras in a down year.

Against the Cubs this season? That slashline is an astonishing .387/.486/.742. His ISO is .355. His wRC+ sits at 228. Baseball Reference lists his number one comp as “the unholy lovechild of Mike Piazza and Barry Bonds.”

And tonight, he was the difference yet again with a two run homer off Hamels in the first inning and an irritatingly slow dribbler up the third base line that Kris Bryant threw into the camera well behind first base for a hit and error in the sixth. Cervelli ended up scoring later on a two out double by Jose Osuna to make it 3-1. Which, given the way Taillon was pitching, was essentially putting it out of reach.

Francisco Cervelli’s walk-up song is “That’s Amore.” So if he’s Dean Martin, he treats the Cubs like they’re his liver.

The preceding paragraph was written in the middle of a seance to summon the ghost of Don Rickles. You hockey puck.

Top Play (WPA): (Goes back to mid-August recaps. Hits control-C and control-V.) The Cubs’ lone tally was a solo home run.

Tonight, just to keep us on our toes, said solo homer was a 3-1 fastball absolutely mashed 437 feet to dead center by…Cole Hamels (+.108). It was the changeup master’s second career homer and cut the deficit to 2-1. In that at-bat, Hamels looked exactly like Anthony Rizzo at the plate.

Unfortunately, he fell just shy of looking like him on the mound.

Bottom Play (WPA): It was Cervelli, natch. But as previously mentioned, the difference was that Josh Bell singled up the middle before the Pirate catcher’s two-out homer onto Waveland Avenue off of a motionless cutter in the top of the first (-.180).

Bell’s grounder was going to be a single all the way but on the play, Daniel Murphy executed what might be the most futile dive in all of sports outside of the Italian National Soccer Team. Having watched Murphy play defense for the past six weeks, I’m convinced that someday he’s going to fly. Because he’s the only player in baseball who possesses the Douglas Adams-esque capability to dive for the ground and miss.

Up Next: The Cubs will look to reduce that magic number to four or even three with game number two of the series. Mike Montgomery looks to repeat his excellence from last week against Chris Archer.

Lead photo courtesy @Cubs on Twitter

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