Pirates Postgame Commentary: August 2 vs Cubs
By COMON Network Team
Final Score – Chicago Cubs (7-2) 2, Pittsburgh Pirates (2-7) 1 – F/11 (Chicago sweeps series)
WP: Jeremy Jeffress (1-0) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB – 9 pitches, 8 strikes
LP: Cody Ponce (0-1) – 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB – 6 pitches, 4 strikes
Despite getting good pitching, the Pirates lost to the Cubs in the third and final game of the series in Chicago by a final of 2-1 in 11 innings.
Kevin Newman started the scoring with a home run in the first inning as the second batter of the game. Steven Brault set down all nine hitters he faced in a piggyback role and struck out four. After he left the game, Chad Kuhl surrendered a double to Kyle Schwarber that tied the game as Wilson Contreras scored. That was it until the 11th inning as Javier Baez’ base hit plated the game-winning run, the international tie-breaker rule runner.
The Pirates now head to Minnesota for a set with the Twins, who are 7-2. Game one of the series is tomorrow at 8:10 p.m. EDT.
COMON Network Team Commentary
- I hate taking Brault out when Derek Shelton did. Absolutely hate it. I don’t care if it was the plan to piggyback after three innings. You don’t have to stick to the plan. Things change. You saw Brault shove. You’ve got a bullpen that frankly, is average at best to plain not very good and you’re handcuffing yourselves by only allowing Chad Kuhl to piggyback Brault. I’m not saying the three innings Brault threw today earns him the permanent nod to start and go deeper into games, but today, you scrap the plan or push it back after you see Brault go out and set down all nine he faced with four punchouts. I just don’t get that decision.
- Here’s another decision I don’t get and listen, I get this is going to be a big “what if?” scenario here, but I’ll take you down the road anyways. Let’s look at the decision to send Jacob Stallings, a slow runner in the big picture, to home on the Josh Bell single in the top of the 10th. Why are you being aggressive there? I get it if you’re playing with a nothing-to-lose mentality, but for me this decision is easy. Schwarber has a pretty good arm out there. Why test it? Why not take your chances with a contact hitter coming to the plate with runners on the corners on nobody out? The tiebreaker rule is designed for you to score. That’s a wasted opportunity in my estimation. Thankfully Sam Howard pitched them to the 11th. Not that it mattered, because the Bucs squandered the shot in the 11th too by running into an out with that runner at second.
- Why the hell are we pitching to Baez with a runner on third and one out in the 11th?
- Oh, and I’m still waiting for the supposed top guys in this lineup to produce. I won’t even harp on it.
Player of the Game – Steven Brault (PIT)
- “Piggy back” doesn’t work: Derek Shelton’s idea to have Steve Brault and Chad Kuhl function more or less as a tag team on the days Brault starts sounded fine in theory, and worked out well when the Pirates tried it for the first time last Monday. This afternoon, the experiment didn’t work. Brault retired the first nine men he faced and looked good doing it, but then got the hook in a pre-determined move. Kuhl had to leave in the fifth inning due to a blister, and by the sixth, the Pirates were on their third pitcher of the afternoon with Jon Lester still going strong for Chicago. Baseball is a complex game, but it ain’t that complex. If a pitcher is going strong with a low pitch count, you don’t pull him. Unless it’s spring training.
- Bullpen doesn’t stink: The fact that the Pirates could even force extra innings today was impressive. It’s hard enough to win a game using eight relief pitchers, and harder still when Geoff Hartlieb, Dovydas Neverauskas, Nik Turley and the debuting Sam Howard make up more than half of them. Getting swept is never fun, but starting in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game, the Bucs put up decent fight at the friendly confines. The squad is poor both in talent and apparently in fundamentals, but they give it their all.
- Sam I am: Speaking of Sam Howard, what a performance. The Pirates seemed to be left for dead in the 10th, with Cubbies at the corners and nobody out. But Howard kept his cool with two strikeouts and a popup, using a nasty slider to keep the game going. There’s no telling how much longer Howard will be up from the taxi squad, but the Pirates need as much help as they can get for their bullpen. Why not give this guy another look or two?
Player of the Game – Jon Lester (CHC)
- Brault was perfect. What a great idea it was to take him out!!! Good lord. I know it is early in the Derek Shelton tenure, but this will go down as one of his early bad decisions because of how it played out. Steven Brault was legitimately perfect after three innings, but was then pulled for Chad Kuhl as they piggyback idea took to reality. Kuhl had a clean inning then got hurt and the Cubs tied the game at one.
- Hello, Newman. Kevin Newman had himself a nice little day. Two hits off Jon Lester, including his first home run of 2020 in the top of the first.
- Give it away. Not the Red Hot Chili Peppers hit. That’s what the Pirates did in extra innings on Sunday. Starting with the runner on second, a questionable decision to send Jacob Stallings led to no runs. After the Cubs couldn’t convert in the 10th, Kevin Newman ran his way off the bases in the 11th. The Cubs got it done in the bottom half and won the game.
Player of the Game – Steven Brault (PIT)
- I think the lineup that was put to paper today by Derek Shelton may have been the most pathetic one ever written at the major league level. Cole Tucker in CF?? I know I wrote previously that he needs to become an everyday player to see his potential, but you can’t throw a kid that’s played three games in the outfield as a Major League professional and expect him to play in centerfield. Also, the bat just isn’t there yet. 2 K’s and no hits.
- Not only is the pitching horrendous, it’s also horrendously unlucky. Chad Kuhl appears to be okay, but talk about another scary situation. Here’s a guy who came back from Tommy John to a team that needs arms, and he seemed to have great stuff. Fastball velocity is in the upper 90s, and benders have been bending. So what happened today seemed scary and very unlucky to Chad Kuhl, but hopefully he’s okay.
- I get the strategy, but why on earth do you take a guy out of a ballgame who’s perfect through three and struck out four guys? Smh.
Player of the Game – Kevin Newman (PIT)