Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (5/16/24): Pirates 5, Cubs 4 – Late Rally Comes Up Short

The Cubs returned to Wrigley Field on Thursday night to take on the Pirates with wind conditions benefiting the hitters. Pittsburgh had another good game against Justin Steele and hung on late for a one-run victory in the series opener.

The Pirates jumped ahead in the opening inning when Edward Olivares took Steele deep to left for a two-run homer that barely reached the basket. The Cubs got one back against hard-throwing Jared Jones in the 2nd when Ian Happ hit one off the right field foul pole for a solo shot.

Nick Gonzales rode the wind for a home run to left in the 4th inning to make it 3-1. In the bottom of the frame, Michael Busch doubled and came in to score on a two-out Nick Madrigal single to pull Chicago back within one.

The same pattern repeated itself in the 5th with doubles from Michael A. Taylor and Bryan Reynolds putting the Pirates on the board and the Cubs responding with an RBI double from Cody Bellinger. The road team added another tally when Seiya Suzuki whiffed on a line drive to right field on a possible sacrifice fly in the 6th. Yasmani Grandal was given an RBI on the play and Suzuki was also charged with an error for allowing the hitter to reach.

Chicago got a golden chance to tie the game in the 8th when a hit by pitch and a throwing error put runners on second and third with nobody out. A Christopher Morel sac fly cut the deficit to one, but the next three batters failed to get the tying run home from second. The Cubs went down quietly in the final frame and Pittsburgh won 5-4. (Box score)

Key Moment

After Morel’s sacrifice fly in the 8th, Pirates pitcher Colin Holderman struck out Happ, walked Busch, and got Madrigal to roll a ground ball to short to end the threat with the tying run stranded on second.

Why the Cubs Lost

The main culprit was the poor performance by Steele, but the failure to come up with a big hit late also hurt. The bullpen was actually good in this game and at least gave their team a chance to win.

Stats That Matter

  • Steele has allowed 11 runs to the Pirates in his last two starts and gave up way too much hard contact on Thursday: 5.2 IP, 5 R, 6 H, 7 K, 1 BB.
  • Bellinger looks good at the plate and he just missed hitting a home run in the 1st inning that would have changed the entire tone of the game.
  • Tyson Miller was impressive again out of the bullpen with two scoreless innings. It would really help if he became a solid option in relief.

Bottom Line

A game like Thursday demonstrates just how valuable Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson are to the team. The bottom of the order is not good and it cost them in this game. Steele has not been sharp since his return, which is more about missing a month of action after Opening Day. It’s also part of his strange career struggles against the Pirates, who have had his number for some reason.

On Deck

Game two of the series is Friday at 1:20pm CT. Kyle Hendricks looks to build on a decent performance in his last outing against rookie Paul Skenes with a broadcast on MLB Network (out of market only), Marquee, and 670 The Score.

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