The Cubs got off to such a promising start tonight with three runs on a three hits, three walks, and a couple of well-placed balls in play through the first two innings. And the fun wasn’t limited to the offensive side of the ball — fill-in starter Mark Leiter Jr. needed to face just seven batters to get his first six outs. And the Cubs looked like they were ready to cruise to a W.
But they hit autopilot too early, managing just ONE hit after the second inning, and it all fell apart from there.
In what was a painfully long and slow game, we were forced to watch helplessly as Daniel Vogelbach brought the Pirates within a run with a two-run blast, as Wil Crowe (and the rest of the Pirates pitchers) SHUT DOWN the Cubs offense, and as Ethan Roberts threw cutter, after cutter, after cutter before the Pirates go-ahead run crossed the plate (seriously, 25 out of 30 his pitches were cutters, including one especially bad sequence of six-straight to Yoshi Tsutsugo that led to a go-ahead double).
Roberts still has a lot going for him, and that pitch is still good in isolation, but he/the Cubs/the advanced scouts/the pitching coach/whoever need a different plan of attack the next time around.
Meanwhile, Seiya Suzuki struck out three times tonight, including a late one on three straight challenge fastballs in the zone with the game-tying run 90 feet away. Oh, the Cubs also burned their top three relievers — Rowan Wick, Mychal Givens, and David Robertson — in a loss to the Pirates (okay, it wasn’t actually a bad idea to use those guys, because they (1) needed the work anyway and (2) kept the Cubs within a run … but I’m not much in the mood for logic right now).
I did not enjoy this game. All 3 hours and 35 minutes of it.