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Disastrous Fourth Inning Dooms Pirates in 7-0 Loss to Cubs

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After a game in which nothing seemed to go right for the Pirates on Monday night, it was a single inning that doomed the Pirates in their 7-0 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday in Chicago.

Bad defense, bad defense and more bad defense let down Pirates starter JT Brubaker in the Cubs five-run fourth inning. The frame began with a Rodolfo Castro throwing error which pulled Yoshi Tsutsugo off the first base bag. The next batter, Ian Happ, hit a sky-high popup to the left side of the infield that fell in front off both Castro and Michael Chavis. The Pirates could have had an out at second, but Chavis held onto the ball instead of making the throw.

As it goes in baseball, Seiya Suzuki ripped a two-run double one pitch later. After another run-scoring double, more poor defense cost the Pirates another out, and the Cubs scored another run on the play. Tsutsugo bobbled a ball at first and tried to beat Jonathan Villar to the base instead of flipping it to Brubaker. Somehow, the play was ruled a base hit.

It looked like the Pirates were going to escape the inning on a double play, but a challenge by the Cubs ruled Villar, who was off on the pitch, safe at second base resulting in another run for the Cubs. Ildemaro Vargas got credit for an RBI, and the Cubs extended their lead to 6-0.

Brubaker was of limited blame in the inning, and pitched much better than his final line indicates. He set a career-high with 10 strikeouts in a season-high 5.2 innings.

The Cubs first found the scoreboard in the third inning when Villar hit his first homer of the year that just snuck over the fence. Wrigley Field was the only ballpark where that hit would have been a home run. Christopher Morel added a solo homer in his first big league at-bat off Chase De Jong to put the game at the final 7-0 tally.

On the Pirates side of things, Bryan Reynolds snapped an 0 for 20 skid with an opposite-field single in the first. Daniel Vogelbach recorded the first triple of his career. He was thrown out attempting to score on a sacrifice fly, and after he and Willson Contreras exchanged words, the benches cleared. Michael Chavis reached base twice, once on a double and once on a walk.

That was about it though for the Pirates whose offensive struggles have continued to plague them and were again held scoreless.

The Pirates will try and salvage the series on Wednesday night. The Pirates haven’t said who will start, but they will be facing Cubs lefty Drew Smyly (1-4, 3.64). The game will air on YouTube TV.

Takeaways

  • Just A Brutal Stretch: It has been a horrible stretch of baseball played by the Pirates, who have scored just a single run in their last three games combined. Even though the Pirates won their game against the Reds on Sunday, they did not record a hit in the ballgame. In Tuesday’s loss to the Cubs, the Pirates only managed three hits — all singles, and were smacked 9-0. In this one, the defense collapsed and the Pirates again failed to muster much of anything with the bats. They’ll need to right the ship quickly.
  • Sigh Of Relief: Reynolds’ single the other way in the first might have been just an ordinary single, but to him it probably felt great to finally record a base hit. Snapping an 0 for 20 skid with a hard-hit single the other way is exactly what the doctor ordered for the 2021 All-Star. Prior to the slump, it looked like Reynolds might have finally been turning a corner, and will try to do just that now that the hitless streak is behind him. 
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