One thing I've never done on this blog is do write-ups on individual games. This year, I'm going to write every now and then on the performance of random teams in random games to keep you all on your toes. Let's get started:
Final: Chicago Cubs 3, Pittsburgh Pirates 1
Really, this game was all about strikeouts. There were a staggering 25 of them, in fact (15 on the Cubs side and 10 on Pittsburgh's side). Combine the totals, divide by 18, and multiply by 9 and you get a combined K/9 ratio of 12.5. Yes, 12.5 K/9 combined between TWO TEAMS. The bulk of the work was done by starters Jeff Samardzija and A.J. Burnett, who racked up 19 of the day's strikeouts. The more impressive thing? There were only three combined walks! Yes, a combined K/BB ratio of 8.33 throughout this game. As you can see, the results on the side of runs were...disappointing. All in all, there were only nine hits (but who are we kidding, there were 25 strikeouts!). The big hit, however, came very early on off the bat of the Italian Stallion Anthony Rizzo, who planted a first-pitch fastball from A.J. Burnett well out of PNC park in right-center field.
This game was all about the starting pitching, as I mentioned before. Samardzija got things done by using his explosive fastball, which was touching 96/97 in the 6th and 7th innings. A.J. Burnett countered with his impressive curveball and a solid mix of pitches overall. However, none of this will come out of this game as the day's biggest story. That belongs to the Cubs' group of relievers who tried to close the game out. Carlos Marmol started the ninth by going: strikeout, HBP, SB, single, BB, and then he got pulled. James Russell came in, recorded a flyout, and left. Then, Kyuji Fujikawa made his Cubs debut by throwing two pitches and getting the last out on a soft fly ball.
It's going to be tough to tell who is going to be the Cubs' closer at the end of the day, but for now I wouldn't be surprised at all if the job wound up in the hands of multiple guys. After all is said and done, the Cubs have finished the afternoon alone in first place in the NL Central.