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It was Opening Day at Wrigley Field as the Pirates took their four-game winning streak into a game against the struggling Cubs. Neither starter lasted long as Jameson Taillon and Jon Lester lasted just two innings each as the Cubs rolled to a 10-0 win over the Pirates.
The Cubs jumped on the Pirates early thanks to mistakes by Kevin Newman, after Taillon got out the first two batters of the inning. Then, Taillon got Daniel Descalso to ground one to Newman at shortstop. Newman threw the ball away from Josh Bell, which put Descalso on second. Taillon then walked Jason Heyward to get to Lester., who then made the Pirates pay dearly by doubling home Descalso.
Ben Zobrist came up and singled home Heyward and Lester to make it 3-0. In a scary scene Anthony Rizzo hit a line drive off of Taillon’s glove to make it 4-0. The lined shot was very close to hitting Taillon in the head. The lined shot also moved Kris Bryant, who was walked, to third.
Javier Baez continued the misery with a soft single after he flailed his bat out to get a hit and it went over the head of Newman. Baez’s single scored Bryant to make it 5-0. Newman committed his third error of the inning when he botched a simple ground ball and threw it away from Bell again and that caused Rizzo to score to make it 6-0. Taillon was removed after the top half.
In the top of the third inning after giving up a hit to Steven Brault – who came in to hit for Taillon – and a hit to Adam Frazier, Lester was removed from the game. It appeared he was hurt sliding into home when he scored in the top half of the inning.
The Cubs added four more runs in to win the game 10-0.
On a day in which Taillon didn’t allow a single earned run, there was plenty to take away from a miserable day in Chicago.
The NL Central is not as deep as first thought: Before the season started the talk about the NL Central was how deep it was and how you can talk yourself into every team winning the division. However, we’re about 10 games into the season and it looks like the Reds are lost and the Cubs are becoming an old team with bloated salaries. If this turns into a three-team race between the Brewers, Pirates and Cardinals, that could help the Pirates out if those two teams struggle and become sellers.
It’s way too early to write the Cubs off. There is talent on the team and they’re scoring runs, averaging 7.2 per game, but the pitching has really fallen off. The rotation of Lester, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana has seen some early struggles. The Pirates could take advantage of that the rest of this series with them scheduled face Darvish on Wednesday with his 8.10 ERA in 6.2 innings and a WHIP at 2.70. Quintana isn’t any better with a 10.29 ERA in seven innings and a 2.71 WHIP.
Marte is riding the struggle bus: He came into the season as the most tenured Pirates player, but this hasn’t been the start of the season that I bet Marte was looking for. Before the game today he was hitting .219. He didn’t do himself any favors in his first two at bats he struck out and then grounded into a double play after the Pirates had two runners on with no outs in the top of the third. He then struck out later in the game. It dropped his average down to .200. Not great, Bob!
Jung-Ho Kang is struggling too: If we’re going to say Marte is struggling, then the same thing has to be said about Kang. He’s hitting .143 to start the season with one home run and four RBIs. The Pirates need all of their bats to contribute this season if they’re going to compete with the top half of this division, but with Kang struggling the question has to be asked about when Ke’Bryan Hayes may be up. Hayes has come to into the season the second-best prospect in the Pirates system and has been regarded as one of the best defensive players in the minors.
Next Up: The Pirates will have Tuesday off and then play in Chicago again with Jordan Lyles making his second start of the season against Darvish with first pitch being at 8:05 p.m. ET.