The week was looking very grim as the Pirates were in the midst of a hot streak and now facing the Cardinals and the Cubs for 7 games right before the All Star break. After taking three out of the four against the Cards, you just knew they were going to at least lose the opener to the Cubs as they were facing Jake Arrieta. Well, erase all of those thoughts and memories because as of last night the Pirates defeated Arrieta to a score of 8-4.
The game started about as well as you would have imagined. Francisco Liriano was struggling but magically working his way out of jams. Arrieta, on the other hand, looked masterful and was sent the Pirates down in order. Then, suddenly, things changed.
In the bottom of the 2nd, David Freese opened the inning with a 340 foot home run over the Clemente Wall to bring the first lead of the game. Next, Starling Marte would single to Addison Russell who couldn’t get the ball cleanly. As we all know, Marte would steal second immediately.
With one out and Marte at second, Sean Rodriguez came to the plate and also smacked a home run, this time traveling 406 feet out into the left field bleachers. The score would now be 3-0 Pirates in just the 2nd inning verse the great Jake Arrieta.
Liriano actually would settle down rather well while obtaining the lead. It wasn’t until the top of the 4th that the Cubs would score on him. With one out Jason Heyward would triple off of the top of the center field wall that was slightly misplayed by Andrew McCutchen leaping to attempt the catch. With Heyward on third, Javier Baez would score him on a ground out to Josh Harrison.
With Liriano still in the game during the 6th inning, the Cubs would get the first two batters on base with no outs. It didn’t help that David Freese made his second error of the game while attempting to field an Addison Russell ground ball. This would lead to a pitching change and Juan Nicasio would enter the game.
Nicasio immediately induced a double play ball, but with Miguel Montero up to bat he gave up a game tying home run. Jake Arrieta would then strike out, but the game would be renewed with a score of 3-3.
Neftali Feliz entered the game in the 7th and was blowing heat. His fast ball was reaching 99 MPH and quickly struck out Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant. With the count full, Feliz left a 98 MPH fast ball right down the middle and Anthony Rizzo didn’t miss. Rizzo blasted his 21st home run of the season that gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
With the lead gone, the Pirates would be none too phased. With 6 of the past 7 wins having to come from behind, Pittsburgh was all too familiar with this stage. With Arrieta still pitching in the 7th, Adam Frazier would draw an inning opening walk. To make his MLB debut, Josh Bell would enter the game to pinch hit for Neftali Feliz. With the first pitch he saw, Bell drove a ball to center with his smooth swing on the left side of the plate. Frazier would end up at third with no outs having John Jaso come to the plate. Jaso would single off of Arrieta to score Frazier, and then Gregory Polanco would score Bell by reaching on a throwing error by Rizzo. Andrew McCuthen kept the rally going as he singled in Jaso, and finally Starline Marte would ground into a force out but score Eric Fryer. With the lead now in tact, the Pirates would never fall behind again in this game and win with a score of 8-4.
Francisco Liriano would pitch a quality game as he lasted 5 innings giving up 2 runs (1 earned) while giving up three hits, three walks, and striking out three. Mark Melancon earned his 27th save, party due to A.J. Schugel‘s struggles to make it a save situation, by pitching 1/3 of an innings and getting Wilson Contreras to strike out swinging.
Jake Arrieta went only 6 innings today and gave up a total of 6 earned runs. While he did strike out six, he also allowed nine hits, one walk, and two home runs. This was the first time he gave up two home runs in a game since April 10, 2016, and the first time he gave up 6 or more earned runs since August 28, 2014.