9/12 Pirates 3, Cubs 1

Chris Rusin knew he would have a tough time with the Pirates, who rank second in the National League against left-handed pitchers with a .266 team batting average. Andrew McCutchen and Marlon Byrd lead the attack, hitting .391 and .336, respectively, against southpaws. Rusin held the Pirates to four hits over seven innings, but it wasn’t good enough.

Byrd and Pedro Alvarez each hit RBI singles off Rusin in the fourth to spark the Pirates to their fourth straight win, a 3-1 decision Thursday over the Cubs. Pittsburgh began the night one game behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

“He did a great job against a lineup that kills left-handers,” Dale Sveum said of Rusin. “That was, to me, his most impressive outing.”

All of the Pirates hits and two runs off Rusin came in the fourth inning, and he did not walk a batter. His ERA dropped to 2.85, the lowest of any rookie left-handed starter in baseball this season. Next closest are Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani (2.92 ERA) and Los Angeles’ Hyun-Jin Ryu (3.07 ERA).

Darnell McDonald led off the Chicago third against Jeff Locke with a ground-rule double that bounced over the center-field fence. Two outs later, he scored on Starlin Castro’s single. That was it.

The Pirates answered in the fourth. With one out, Jordy Mercer singled for the first hit off Rusin, and reached third on McCutchen’s double that bounced off the third-base bag.

“The baseball Gods got me that time,” Rusin said of McCutchen’s lucky hit.

Rusin got Justin Morneau to hit a comebacker and he threw home to snag Mercer for the second out. But McCutchen scored on Byrd’s single to center to tie the game, and Alvarez followed with a RBI single.

The way the Pirates have been playing, you can only hope to contain them.

“For the most part, you’re keeping their slugging percentage down,” Sveum said. “You don’t walk anybody and you’ve got a chance to get out of innings, you can keep the game close, and that’s what we did.”

The runs off Rusin were the first he’s given up after 22 1/3 scoreless innings on the road, the longest streak by a Cubs rookie lefty away from home in franchise history. Rusin’s streak was also the longest in baseball since Neal Heaton’s 23-inning scoreless stretch on the road for the Indians from Aug. 9-29, 1983, his rookie season.

While the Pirates are trying to figure out who they’ll play in the postseason, the Cubs are looking ahead to next year. Will Rusin be in the 2014 rotation?

“We’ll cross those bridges when we get to it,” Sveum said. “He’s definitely put himself in a position to have every opportunity to make the rotation.”

– Carrie Muskat

9 Comments

I said it before and I’ll say it again, Rusin reminds me of a young Whitey Ford. Left hander’s are hard to come by, especially good ones and I hope that the organization shows it’s commitment to him and gives him every opportunity to succeed.

Totally agree!

if Donnie Murphy is good enough to be your cleanup hitter for the night, with 10 home runs in 30 games, why do you ask him to bunt with nobody out in the 9th inning, when he represents the go ahead run?? He has the best pop in your line up, for the night, right? Other than Rizzo. I’m hoping he did that on his own, cause that seems like the guy you want up, as a manager, in that spot.

Agreed. Another tell tale sign of Sveum’s incompetence. Even if Murphy did bunt on his own (doubtful as most CLEAN UP HITTERS with pop want to drive in a run already in scoring position…) Sveum is the MANAGER and he should have made it clear to HIS CLEAN UP HITTER to SWING AWAY. Also, when down by two runs, your last at bat with an entire bench of pinch hitters available….why would Sveum allow Barney, one of the teams weakest hitters to lead off when you need somebody with a BETTER chance of a single or even an extra base hit? It was only by chance that Barney reached on a wild pitch DROP THIRD STRIKE ON A TERRIBLE SWING. It was one of the worst AB’s I’ve seen Barney have in a long time. He was pressing and should have been replaced with a pinch hitter. So that 9th inning sequence in a nutshell is reason to believe Sveum is NOT manager material. No good manager would have allowed that inning to play out like that. We went down without even a fight….pathetic. Caveat: Sveum may be under orders to “not care”, take all losses that come his way and go for the draft pick. Even so, enough already with that…even Sveum needs now “practice” managing like a REAL ML manager and get ready for next year.

Yes, and I’m sure if Murphy swung away, you’d be on here complaining how the Cubs never bunt, how the Cardinals bunt all the time and look how good they are, how Sveum doesn’t know basic baseball strategy, how they do the bunting tournament for nothing, and such. And to the person who compared Chris Rusin with 11 starts under his belt to Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, are you freaking serious? And who did you think Rich Hill reminded you of, Sandy Koufax?

I agree with anyone who says Murph the Surf was ordered to bunt in that situation last night. He surely did not do so on his own. Was obvious he has not been asked to sacrifice often in past, as he has not mastered that fundamental. That was the lamest bunt attempt I`ve seen in a long spell. What a gift for the Pirates! Keep in mind that most Cubs fans would prefer to see the Pirates win the division rather than the Cardinals, and we did our part to enable that. Is more of that in our future for the remainder of this weekend`s games? Are we going to hear more assertions of “Raise the jolly roger?”

You said it jhosk. I don’t believe ANY fan in their right mind would have complained about Murphy swinging away and popping up vs. BUNTING and popping up…. Is Sveum the only guy in the organization that does not know Murphy is on a power binge? It may be rare and coincidental but nonetheless it is a fact. To have him bunt was ludicrous. THESE guys are NOT the Cardinals and only a FEW of the players can handle bunting. If only we HAD the Cardinals coaching staff and THIER philosophy…..THEN having Murphy bunt would have been AN OPTION. As it stands, having Murphy bunt IS NOT AN OPTION….unless you’re Sveum and appointed the sage field leader by Hoystein. In fact, the hiring of Sveum may very well be Hoystein’s one and only blunder to date. (YES, I DO remember the Stewart trade….)

We had no outs and 3 of the best power hitters, Murphy, Lake and Castillo, to get those guys in! What the (you know what) was Sveum thinking calling for a bunt. Even my special brownies are no match for some calls. We had a really really good chance to win that game! Good thing no one heard this old lady’s language last night! Splutter, splutter ——–arghhh!

White…..”best” is pushing it but yes, for the CUBS they were our “power” hitters and I agree completely. What WAS Sveum thinking? What is Epstein thinking? Draft pick, I guess.
BROWNIE TIME!!

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