Gerrit Cole is very talented. He doesn’t always get the results, but he’s one of those guys from whom you can see the talent oozing whenever he takes the mound. When he’s right, he pounds the zone with fantastic stuff, forcing hitters to attack early, lest they fall behind 0-2, but then often hitting weakly into outs when they do attack early.
That is all to say, when Cole shuts the Cubs out for six or seven or – like last night – eight innings, it makes you mad, but you also understand the reality of the situation. The Cubs’ bats weren’t necessarily crummy last night. They just couldn’t break through against a guy who really had it working.
But Cole didn’t quite have enough bullets left in the tank to pitch the 9th inning, and when the Pirates turned to Daniel Hudson to try to extend the game, the Cubs were ready. Anthony Rizzo drew a four-pitch walk, Leonys Martin pinch ran and stole second base.
And with two outs, Alex Avila came to the plate with a chance to play hero. He did:
Another big hit for Alex Avila. pic.twitter.com/wtPqt9CYWJ
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 7, 2017
That ball was perfectly placed – it had to be, in order to generate an Alex Avila triple. It’s interesting to think about how the butterfly wings would have changed things if Rizzo stayed into run and would have been on first base in that moment. Let’s assume Avila is pitched the same and hits the ball the same. I think it drops in for a hit, but I’m not so sure it goes all the way to the wall if the Pirates are playing no doubles in the outfield. And, in that case, I’m not so sure Rizzo scores on that hit.
In any case, great job by Avila, and a great moment for the Cubs. After eight innings of nothing against a locked-in starting pitcher, they paired a perfectly-placed, two-out, extra-base hit with a runner on base.
That was the only scoring in the game. Cubs win 1-0.