As you well know from Brett’s road-tripped Series Review, the Chicago Cubs just swept the Pittsburg Pirates at PNC Park.
The series sweep was a big one for several reasons:
- The Pirates had just won eight out of their last ten games, including a stretch of six in a row.
- The Pirates could very well be the Cubs’ biggest threat in the NL Central.
- The Cubs played without several key players once again (Jason Heyward, Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber)
- And finally, it was an away series featuring the opposing team’s ace (Gerrit Cole) after a disappointing loss against the last place Atlanta Braves.
There were a lot of ways the Cubs could have spun some convincing excuses had they lost the series or were swept themselves, but that didn’t happen. They dug down deep and kept churning out impressive offensive performances, while the pitching staff frustrated what was the best offense in baseball (the Pirates).
Among the most frustrating parts of the weekend for the Pirates (or at least Andrew McCutchen) came in the top of the 3rd inning in yesterday’s finale. With the score tied 0-0, Antony Rizzo stepped up to the plate with Tommy La Stella on first and two outs. He proceeded to hit a rocket line drive to right-center field that got away from Andrew McCutchen, but not before it bounced off his mitt and everyone was safe. Of course, the very next pitch to the next batter (Ben Zobrist) was lifted to deep right center field for a three run home run – all the runs the Cubs would need.
You can see the play in the middle of the video here, as McCutchen discusses it:
The scorekeeper called that an error for McCutchen, which he was clearly unhappy about, saying, “[Rizzo] smoked it. It was a knuckleball. I did what I could to try to catch it. Whoever scored that an error should be fired. That’s unbelievable. I’d like him to try to catch that one.”
I’m assuming he doesn’t actually want to see the scorekeeper fired. And, to be honest, I don’t blame McCutchen for being frustrated with that call. The ball left Rizzo’s bat at about 110mph, per Statcast, and it had some seriously vicious movement, especially at the end. That should be a hit.
For his part, Cubs manager Joe Maddon agrees, telling the Tribune: “That [error] needs to be changed. That’s inappropriate.”
Frustrating, inappropriate, delicious, awesome, encouraging, awe-inspiring; The adjectives you choose to describe this series with might vary depending on your perspective, but I’m guessing McCutchen’s wouldn’t change too much whether that error was scored a hit or not.
After that series, in which the Cubs outscored the Pirates 20 to 5, the Cubs’ run differential now sits at +93 on the season.
Relentless, the Cubs continue to be it. And it makes opponents feel feisty. Even Sean Rodriguez got a little hot at various times throughout the series, though, to my knowledge, the dugout Gatorade cooler remained unharmed.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.