A pretty bad storm ripped through Chicago and caused a two hour rain delay so there was a possibility of some #weirdbaseball last night. Unfortunately Travis Wood and Vance Woorley worked pretty quickly so there was no need for ice cream.
The Pirates had another nice offensive outing against Wood. He was forced to be yanked before throwing five innings and thanks to a Jordy Mercer home run and run scoring singles by Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen the Pirates held a 3-2 lead.
Worley was pretty good for his second straight start. He nearly went seven innings (6.2) and gave up three runs on five hits. He walked only one guy and threw 68 of his 89 pitches for strikes. The thing about Worley is that he doesn't mess around. He doesn't have great stuff as he sat right around 91 but he pounds the strike zone. There is no nibbling around the zone for the perfect pitch, he is going to throw strikes and make you beat him. I think at some point this is going to hurt him but this is a good thing as he isn't going to walk a lot of hitters and he is going to let the defense play for him.
The offense last night wasn't as prolific as it has been for much of the season but they got runs when they needed them. Anthony Rizzo homered off Worley in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead and the very next half inning the Pirates sent seven men to the plate, chased Wood, and collected a pair of runs on three hits. That was huge to take back control of the game right away and that is exactly what the offense did.
Jason Grilli is no longer the Pirates closer and with that the backend of the bullpen is going to get shifted around a little bit. Jared Hughes came in to relieve Worley in the seventh inning and got a fly out which left Tony Watson to cover the eighth and Mark Melancon to close it out.
It worked out exactly how it was supposed to, but not by design. It just so happened that the Cubs top of the lineup was up in the eighth inning with Chris Coghlan and Anthony Rizzo hitting, bot lefties. It took Watson nine pitches to get through three batters and not a single ball left the infield. Those are the guys that Watson should be facing in a game like this and even though it was pure coincidence that he faced that part of the lineup that is how it should work every time.
Melancon was just dirty last night. The scoreless inning he pitched for the save was probably the best inning he has thrown all season. He threw 12 pitches and got three strikeouts and while he usually relies on the cutter to get outs his curveball was filthy last night. He got the strikeout with that pitch each time and he made the Cubs hitters look awfully stupid.
A lot was made about how Melancon wasn't pitching well this year when he went through a little bit of a rough patch, but the dude has been good all year. Between he and Watson they can be a very good backend of the bullpen if Clint Hurdle is going to stick with set roles (he will) and they are nearly interchangeable. It's a good thing to have if you are a baseball team.