Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 7/7/13
The Pirates wrapped up a bad week and a bad series at Wrigley with a tough extra inning loss on Sunday afternoon, wasting a dramatic Starling Marte homer in the ninth inning. A.J. Burnett made his return to the rotation and was pretty solid, although he didn’t dominate the Cubs as he has in the past at Wrigley. That’s understandable since it was his first start in a month. Burnett allowed just one earned run (plus another unearned run) over five innings, and could have gone deeper into the game (only 66 pitches) if a key pinch-hit chance hadn’t forced him out in the sixth. A.J. only struck out three but also allowed only three hits and looked just fine. Good to have him back. Once again, though, the offense let A.J. and the Pirates down. Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen had big games (combining for three doubles and three walks) but that was about it for most of the day. The Bucs weren’t able to capitalize on starter Carlos Villanueva‘s pitch limit forcing the Cubs in to the bullpen early, and missed a couple of big chances with RISP in the middle innings. The game stayed knotted at two for a while as both bullpens pitched well, but Tony Watson yielded a solo bomb to put the Cubs on top in the seventh. The Pirates looked to be going down quietly after that until Marte stepped up with two outs and nobody on in the ninth. Marte had the at-bat of the year, fouling off pitch after pitch (none of them in the strike zone, amazingly) and eventually crushed a 3-2 pitch out to center for an incredible game-tying blast. Mark Melancon got the job done in the ninth and Bryan Morris got through the tenth, but Morris couldn’t do it again in the eleventh, as a couple of hits, a bad and rare Russell Martin error, and a sac-fly brought home the winner. The Pirates played a shaky game on defense and saw the bullpen let them down twice, but the biggest issue was the offense once again. It’s painfully obvious that Brandon Inge can’t see regular at bats if Neil Walker is going to miss time, and the bench is a disaster. This was a bad week for the Pirates, who lost two series in a row to bad teams, and there are certainly some things to worry about at the moment. That said, I’m really not ready for the “here we go again” mentality just yet. It’s just one week. Cubs 4, Pirates 3 / Box / 2013 Record: 53-34 / Next: Monday, vs. Athletics, 7:05 Source: FanGraphs
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