After the Chicago Cubs got their season started with a victory on Monday, they returned to action Wednesday after their day off on Tuesday. The Cubs had to chance to start the season 2-0 for the first time in 1995. They figured to have a solid chance with Edwin Jackson making his Cubs debut. But Cub-killer, Wandy Rodriguez was on the mound for the Pirates and he continued dominance to spoil Jackson’s debut.
With temperatures hovering around the low 30’s the entire game, a pitcher’s duel was much expected. And that is exactly what happened. Neither team was very successful the first time around the order. Alberto Gonzalez was the only Cub to get a hit off of Rodriguez the first time through the order. But Jackson was impressive early for the Cubs as he spotted pitches really well. In the first inning, Jackson retired the Pirates on three strike outs.
After three and a half scoreless innings, it appeared that the game was going to remain neck and neck for a while. But the Pirates were able to get to Jackson in the fourth inning. The inning began with a base hit by Garret Jones and then Andrew McCutchen lined on down the left field corner for a double that plated Jones. From that point on, Jackson struggled with his command for the remainder of the inning. After a fielder’s choice advanced McCutchen to third, Starlin Castro committed his first error of the season on a routine ground ball. Castro was preparing to try to make a play at the plate but took his eye off the ball and let it sneak past him. Jackson continued to struggle with is command as he walked Neil Walker, giving the Pirates another scoring chance. But he was able to stop the inning from blowing up and retired the next two batters.
Scoring chances were at a premium in this one. The Cubs best chance came in the seventh when they were finally able to rattle Rodriguez. After Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch, Soriano battled Wandy and eventually reached on a base hit. After Hairston struck out looking, Wellington Castillo was also hit. The Cubs had the bases loaded with only one out. But it was typically Cubs baseball from there. Brent Lillibridge had a number of pitches to do something with but failed to put a ball in play and eventually struck out looking as well. Gonzalez was able to run the count full but flew out to center. A golden opportunity by the board for the Cubs. Already through the first two games, the Cubs are 0-13 with runners in scoring position.
The Pirates got an insurance run in the seventh and their bullpen shut the door. Although it’s just the second game of the season it was a tough loss to watch. Patience at the plate is a good thing, but watching called third strikes with runners in scoring positions was frustrating for Cub fans. 0-13 with runners in scoring position is always a troubling stat, no matter what time of the year it is.
The Cubs will try to salvage the series on Thursday as Travis Wood takes the hill for the first time this year. James McDonald will get the nod for the Pirates. First pitch at 11:35A.M.