Some fans will view the Cubs’ three-game sweep of the Pirates at PNC Park as a statement, a reminder that the National League Central’s balance of power may be shifting to Chicago. The Pirates won’t.
After the Pirates’ series sweep of the Cardinals in Pittsburgh during Opening Week, arguably the most tightly contested rivalry in baseball will return to St. Louis this weekend. The Bucs and Cards, neck and neck in the National League Central over the past three years, will begin a three-game series Friday night at Busch Stadium.
Already off to their best start in more than 100 years, the Cubs further cemented their status as the National League Central’s team to beat on Wednesday, finishing a three-game sweep of the Pirates with a 6-2 win at PNC Park.
Matt Joyce had hit against Jake Arrieta before Tuesday night. Joyce had hit Arrieta well, in fact, with seven hits in 14 at-bats. That was years ago, when Joyce played for the Rays and Arrieta was a struggling starter for the Orioles.
Coming off a start in which he was in “complete command,” according to manager Clint Hurdle, Pirates right-hander Juan Nicasio will try to shut down the Cubs’ dangerous lineup in the series finale at PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon. Chicago is going for a sweep behind left-hander Jon Lester.
Jake Arrieta walked the Pirates’ first two hitters Tuesday night, and that was about as bad as it got for the Cubs. Returning to PNC Park for the first time since the National League Wild Card Game, Arrieta threw seven scoreless innings and improved to 6-0 in the Cubs’ 7-1 win over the Pirates.
After tempers flared during the Pirates’ 7-2 loss on Monday night at PNC Park, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the National League Central rivals had developed “an actual organic rivalry” that benefits baseball. Does that ring true for the Pirates?
Pirates prospect Elias Diaz will undergo surgery on his right elbow this week, the team announced on Monday. The club did not disclose any further details about the operation.
From top to bottom, the Pirates have built one of the Majors’ most productive lineups so far this season. They’ve been remarkably consistent in another way, too.
Kirsten Zinsser is the Pirates’ winner of the annual Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.
Gerrit Cole was admittedly “out of sync” in Monday’s 7-2 loss to the Cubs at PNC Park, the long-awaited rematch of last season’s National League Wild Card Game. That description applied to the Pirates’ work controlling the Cubs’ running game, too.