The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates each had something positive to take out of their series opener Friday.
Chicago got the bigger reward, its fourth straight win, 3-2.
Pittsburgh has lost seven of its past eight games, but can hope there is some carryover to Saturday’s meeting at Wrigley Field from the latter part of Friday’s game. The Pirates trailed by three entering the ninth and rallied to get to within one.
“We did not quit fighting,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.
The Pirates need something to kick-start their offense. They have scored two runs in each of their past three games, and that comes after two shutout losses in a row.
“I thought we put together better at-bats the last three innings (Friday),” said catcher Jacob Stallings, who doubled and scored in the ninth.
The Cubs are playing the weekend set without outfielder Ian Happ, who on Friday was placed on the 10-day IL because of bruised ribs.
In the middle game of the series Saturday, Chicago right-hander Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.00 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (0-1, 4.66 ERA).
Williams will be making his second start against his former team and could be looking for some redemption. The first, April 11, didn’t go so well. He took the loss in a 7-1 game in which he gave up five runs and a season-high 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“Baseball is a game of inches, and it felt like when we were beating guys, it was just out of reach of certain guys on the field,” Williams said of that game. “And then when I did mis-execute a pitch, it was hammered.”
His most recent time out, Williams had his shortest start of the year, 2 2/3 innings Sunday at Cincinnati. He allowed six runs and six hits, including a season-high three home runs but did not get a decision in a 13-12 Reds win.
That had him feeling as if the Chicago starters were letting the team down.
“We really need to do better as a rotation. And we know that,” Williams said.
Perhaps the others listened. That was the last time the Cubs lost. They went to Los Angeles and swept the Dodgers, then got seven shutout innings Friday from starter Zach Davies.
Crowe will be making his third start of the season. The rookie on Sunday pitched five innings against St. Louis, giving up Harrison Bader’s three-run homer among the three hits allowed. That was all the Cardinals needed in a 3-0 win and a loss for Crowe.
The unusual aspect to that outing was the Crowe realized pretty quickly that his fastball was the only thing working.
“Throughout the entire game, the command of his off-speed stuff was not very good, and he actually pitched with one pitch, which is fairly impressive,” Shelton said.
Crowe didn’t feel he had a choice.
“The fastball was the best it’s been in a while,” he said. “I felt really good out there with the fastball and things, but then you flip it to the other side, and the off-speed was probably the worst it’s been in probably a couple years.”
This will be Crowe’s second crack at the Cubs. He pitched two-thirds of an inning of relief April 3, giving up one run and one hit, with two walks and two strikeouts.
–Field Level Media