Cubs at Pirates Series Recap


After an off day on Monday, the Cubs began a short two series road trip through the NL Central, with the first stop being in Pittsburgh. If you count the first two game set that is part of the split four game Crosstown Series in Chicago with the White Sox, technically it is a three series road swing. The Cubs entered the series in fourth place, chasing the home team Pirates by several games for third.

The Good

Matt Garza is back! And what a grand entrance he made. The former Cubs ace flirted with a no hit bid and showed plenty off life on his fastball and slider. He even chipped in at the plate with a two run double, proving he is ready to fit in with this starting rotation that can both pitch and hit. The walks Garza issued are a bit deceiving, as they came on 3-2 pitcher’s pitch attempts as opposed to wild four pitch Carlos Marmol like free passes.

May 23, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) steals second base as Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (middle) takes the throw during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Current ace Jeff Samardzija continued his dominance against the Pirates, tossing a one run gem in game two of the series. Unfortunately for The Shark, his offense could not support him even with one measly run. The Cubs starter thus was hung with another unfair loss to his name.

The Bad

The aforementioned Cubs offense and the ongoing productivity issues regarding runners in scoring position. Take out the Garza double in game one and the Cubs went 2 for 8 with RISP. The visitors in blue went 0 for 6 in the Samardzija start on their way to being shut out by the Pirates pitchers. Throw in 2 for 6 in the series finale and you are looking at 5 for 21 combined in the series.

Part of the lack of offense is also attributed to lack of production from the middle of the Cubs order. In this series Anthony Rizzo went 0 for 13. In game two alone, the two through five hitters went 0 for 15 with seven strikeouts. Even Nate Schierholtz, who had been one of the few bright spots offensively to start the season, went 0 for 4 in his lone start in Pittsburgh.

The Ugly

It is painful to even rehash, but Shawn Camp, with a little help from his bullpen mates, blew the game one 3-0 lead and created a 3-5 deficit when he served up a grand slam in the sixth. The veteran reliever has struggled to repeat his serviceable 2012 season numbers, but this latest let down did more than lose the game. With Garza coming in guns blazing and putting the Cubs up, the momentum was in place not only for a series opening win, but also to set the tone for the series against the next team above them in the standings. Instead Camp’s outing not only negated that positive mojo, it reversed the momentum that has sparked the Cubs current slide.

Things will not get any easier in Cincinnati against the Wild Card leading Reds. The Cubs are quickly snowballing into a seller’s position come June in the trade market after some grand talk by the front office of being competitive in 2013.