Following a game for six hours is one thing. Following a game for six hours only to see the Cubs lose is another.
It was another largely miserable game to watch, as the Cubs repeatedly failed to get runners home when they had opportunities to do so. I can – and will – offer up a little statistical sanity when it comes to small samples and unlikely odds, but I won’t tell you not to be frustrated by these first two games. That’s the thing about being a fan: you’re allowed to overreact. It’s half the (sick) fun. So long as the men in charge don’t overreact …
Edwin Jackson had an uneven, albeit mostly successful, first outing on the year (which feels like it was a million years ago). He was up in the zone (and out of the zone) early, which drove up his pitch count. The final line isn’t quite what you want to see, but he had a stretch for a few innings where he looked dominant. The bullpen was generally very effective, with Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm, in particular, looking nasty.
Emilio Bonifacio went 5-7 with a walk and a stolen base, and he’s now lodged 9 hits in his first two games. That’s nuts.
There were some stupid hit-by-pitch shenanigans, with Jackson accidentally hitting Starling Marte to begin the game, and Charlie Morton very intentionally hitting Anthony Rizzo. The sides were warned. Rizzo was hit later in an important situation, and there was no ejection. Rizzo was pissed. More on that in a moment.
The joke was on the Pirates, though, because then Nate Schierholtz grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded … but the out at second base was overturned on review! And the Cubs got a run from the replay gods! Their first run of the season, in fitting fashion.
The Cubs scored the next inning in the 9th – when they finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position – to tie things up and force extras. In the 12th, Anthony Rizzo went deep (because of the aforementioned anger) to give the Cubs the lead, which Jose Veras gave back in the bottom of the frame in his Cubs debut. Veras was all over the place, and, although he gave up just one run and struck out Andrew McCutchen with the bases loaded, it’s going to take about 15 straight scoreless appearances for Cubs fans to forget this one.
In the end, the Pirates strung together a few hits in the 16th inning and won. My brain melted. And poor Carlos Villanueva.