The Pirates dominated the Cubs Tuesday night at PNC Park ... I think.
I was here, seated in my usual press-box perch, and the score read 5-1 for the home team by the game's end, so I'm pretty sure they did indeed dominate. The problem, however, was the weather. A two-hour, five-minute rain delay slowed things to a halt after the third inning, and any sense of momentum was lost.
Joe Musgrove started the game on fire, posting four strikeouts and allowing just one hit — a single — through three. Twenty-five of his 34 pitches went for strikes, a 74-percent strike rate. Our own Matt Sunday captured it best:
— Matt Sunday (@mattsunday) July 3, 2019
Musgrove was even doing stuff like this:
And then ... poof. The rain extinguished him, and what was a promising start ends as a what-could-have-been night.
"It's a bummer, man," Musgrove was saying at his locker following the team's win. "We only get so many starts a year, so to have one taken away by the rain's tough, but that's kind of what you get when you play here. You look at the forecast and it's thundershowers for the whole week, so you kind of hope it doesn't fall on your night."
Clint Hurdle echoed those sentiments.
"That was a hard one to swallow right there," Hurdle was saying in his postgame press conference at PNC Park. "What'd he have, four punch-outs in three innings and one hit? The ball was spinning, the fastball was playing. It looked like he had a combination of three or four pitches working. And it just got to the point where you can't send him back out. He'll be coming back on [his] regular turn ... I'm sure he'll have a little hop in his step Sunday when he gets out there."
The game resumed, and Adam Frazier continued doing really, really good things at the plate, cranking a three-run blast into the right-field stands to give the Pirates a 5-0 lead. It looked a little something like this (P.S. watch Willson Contreras, the Cubs' catcher):
In all, Frazier went 4 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs, at one point getting his seventh straight hit (spanning back to Monday night's game). He's the first Pirate to get seven consecutive hits since Freddy Sanchez did it in May 2009 — and that streak is active heading into Wednesday's contest.
"It's still a work in progress, just trying to perfect [everything]," Frazier was saying postgame at his locker. "You're not going to catch everything out front, but that's just something I'm trying to do — bring him into the zone and attack the baseball instead of being attacked by the baseball, which is ... I had a lot of that this year."
Some questioned Hurdle's decision to keep Frazier at the leadoff position with the return of Kevin Newman, but those questions were quickly and thoroughly answered by No. 26. In evaluating Frazier's continued hot streak, Hurdle did not — to steal one of his own favorite phrases — overcook things.
"[The decision to put Frazier at leadoff has] worked out well for us," Hurdle said. "He's done a really spectacular job the last two days."
The Cubs added a desperation run in the ninth from there, tuning up Felipe Vazquez a bit before ultimately falling. Francisco Liriano, Richard Rodriguez, Clay Holmes, Kyle Crick and Vazquez teamed up to finish the job started by Musgrove, marking another strong showing from the Pirates' bullpen.
"We're all feeding off each other, and we're all putting each other in good spots," Holmes was saying after the game at his locker. "When the guy in front of you does his job, it helps you."
• Steven Brault is now 3 for 3 as a pinch hitter this season, notching a single in the fourth batting for Liriano. Dude can crack, no doubt.
• Clay Holmes' line tonight: two innings pitched, four strikeouts, zero hits. He pitched with confidence and authority, fanning the first four batters he faced.
"It's just nice seeing, kind of, the work pay off," Holmes said. "Each time out, I'm getting more and more comfortable."
"That was probably as good as we've seen him," Hurdle added.
• At 41-43, the Pirates are now four games behind the first-place Brewers and three games out of the second NL Wild Card spot.
• Time of game: 2 hours, 43 minutes (plus the delay)
• Tonight's attendance: 14,573
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