Cubs Fight Their Hardest Against Pirates
By Joshua Savitzky
Cubs fans poured into Wrigley Field on Sept. 24, hoping to secure a spot in the 2018 postseason. Like all game nights, the ballpark was alive and energetic; fans filed into their seats and stood, hands and hats over their hearts as the national anthem was sung, starting off the game.
The top of the first inning started off strong with the starting pitcher, Cole Hamels, leading with a strikeout and pop fly closing out the first two outs. Following a single by Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli homered far to the left, scoring two runs in the first inning.
Wrigley Field soon fell quiet. The bottom of the first, the second inning, and the top of the third were uneventful for both teams. That changed at the bottom of the third when Hamels homered, scoring his second career home run and putting the Cubs on the board.
The following innings were met with strong pitching from Hamels and the Cubs losing opportunities for big comebacks. Although the bases were loaded in the bottom of the 5th, Ben Zobrist, Cubs Right fielder, was unfortunately unable to get any hits to retake the lead. The top of the 6th was met with Pirates right fielder, José Osuna, hitting a double and sending Cervelli to home, widening the scoring gap even further. The 6th inning closed out with the Cubs once again letting go of opportunities for closing the gap.
At this point, the Cubs fans in Wrigley Field were not losing hope. The audience collectively cheered when bases were hit for the Cubs and strikes were delivered to the Pirates, and collectively sighed when Cubs were out and Pirates got hits. The energy was strong going into the 7th inning stretch and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was sung by the audience.
The 7th inning saw two pitching changes for the Cubs: first to pitcher Jamie García, who was quickly replaced by pitcher Steve Cishek. The switch proved to be a bad decision for the Cubs because the Pirates scored soon after. The bottom of the 7th and the 8th inning was uneventful.
Many in the audience were leaving Wrigley Field at this time, viewing a 4-1 loss for the Cubs as inevitable. The morale for both the ballpark and the Cubs players dropped to a low not felt since the Pirates’ home run in the first inning. Little did those leaving realize that the top of the 9th would give the Pirates an even greater lead, thanks to a home run and poor pitching switch by the Cubs. The bottom of the 9th passed uneventfully as the game closed with a final score of 5-1.
The Cubs did not play poorly in Monday’s game, tying with Pittsburgh in at-bats and hits, and even struck out more hitters than Pittsburgh. The game came down to some unlucky plays that could have tied the game or even turned the lead around in their favor. The Cubs lost their chance at clinching the division, and, with a Brewers win that same day, came with an uphill battle for the National League Central Division championship.