Pirates Survive Cubs Comeback; Wong Shines in D.C.; Brewers… ugh…

Tony Watson

Tony Watson

The Pittsburgh Pirates took a step towards earning a series split, taking game 3 of their 4-game home series against the Chicago Cubs 4-3.

It wasn’t without drama, as the Comeback Cubs staged a rally in the 8th inning to make it a 1-run game, putting the first four batters on base before Tony Watson retired David Ross on an RBI fielder’s choice, Jonathan Herrera on a fly out and Addison Russell on a liner.

Watson would continue on into the 9th to pick up the 2-inning save. (Is it 1985 again?)

Kris Bryant, who got his first action in center field after Dexter Fowler left with some tightness in his groin, struck out with Anthony Rizzo representing the tying run on 1st base, ending the game.

* * *

Kolten Wong found inspiration by watching past footage of himself on his iPad and then brought that out to the field with a 3-hit day, including a homer, driving in 3 runs and making some great defensive plays to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a wild 7-5 win over the Washington Nationals.

As a guy who has always had some weird fascination with second base, those are the kinds of plays I dream about.

Like Wong, Matt Adams also homered and doubled.

Matt Carpenter only had one hit, though it was his 3rd homer of the season.

* * *

The Johnny Cueto / Jimmy Nelson match-up lived up to it’s billing and ended with the Cincinnati Reds handing the Milwaukee Brewers their 8th straight loss.

Billy Hamilton scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 9th, breaking a 1-1 tie when Francisco Rodriguez uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the speedster to cross home.

It was kind of a weird play, with Rodriguez’s pitch going about 57 feet, bouncing in the middle of the left-handed batter’s box with a right-handed batter at the plate.

The catcher, Martin Maldonado, got on the ball quickly and made a perfect throw to Rodriguez coming across the plate. Hamilton, who chose to cross home plate standing up, narrowly avoided a potentially nasty collision with the pitcher at the plate. Instead, he dodged Rodriguez’s tag by about a foot, crossing home safely.

Aroldis Chapman retired three in a row (of course), book-ending the inning of work with strikeouts (again, of course).

Nelson went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 5. He has a sparkling 1.35 ERA.

Cueto also went 8 innings and allowed 1 run, though on 5 hits to go with 2 walks and 8 punch-outs. His ERA fell to 1.86 in 2015. On the “red flag” side, Cueto went 125 pitches in the start. With some mediocre middle relief options and coming off of the 16-10 slug-fest the night before, it seems Cueto was bound to be pushed tonight, particularly in a tight ballgame.

In some bit of weirdness, umpire Angel Hernandez called Cueto for two balks in the game. The pitcher had been called for just one during his masterful 2014 season.

* * *

Some recent Fangraphs.com goodies to munch on:

Mike Pitriello (Fangraphs.com) on the Brewers failure to recognizing that this season would be a flop. Granted it has gone even worse than expected, but there still has been no signs that the team is building towards anything either. Read here.

Dave Cameron wrote about the Cubs going all on with Addison Russell. Read here.

Chris Mitchell earlier projected Bryant. And now he’s posted a tempered projection on Russell. Maybe not ready for stardom in 2015 and, with plate discipline problems, possibly not ever. But still a good chance to be a high quality player. Read here.

Jeff Sullivan on Bryant’s sick ability to handle an inside pitch and punch it outside for an opposite field double off the wall. What? Read here.

Outside of Fangraphs…

Bill Brink at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, despite his struggles, Mark Melancon is still the Pirates closer. His pitches have been coming in about 3 mph slower than last year’s solid campaign. Read here.

* * *

Schedule

8-6 CHICAGO Hendricks (0-0, 6.10)
7-8 PITTSBURGH Locke (2-0, 1.93)
11:35 AM CT
8-7 CINCINNATI Bailey, H (0-1, 7.94)
2-13 MILWAUKEE Lohse (0-3, 10.34)
12:40 PM CT
9-4 ST. LOUIS Wacha (2-0, 1.35)
7-8 Washington Scherzer (1-1, 0.83)
3:05 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 9 4 W1
Chicago Cubs 8 6 1.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 8 7 2.0 W3
Pittsburgh Pirates 7 8 3.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 2 13 8.0 L8
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