CHICAGO — Lost amid the insanity of the ninth inning of today’s 5-4 upset of the Cubs was a pretty good effort by righty Ross Ohlendorf.
When we last saw Ohlendorf, he was struggling to get through three- and four-inning outings against lineups laden with minor leaguers in spring training. Expectations understandably might have been low for his season debut against the Cubs.
Surprise! Ohlendorf worked six innings and allowed four runs on eight hits, walked four (one intentionally) and struck out three. He threw 96 pitches, including 64 strikes.
“I didn’t show him much in spring training, but I’m planning to do well from now on,” Ohlendorf said. “I feel like I did better than I’ve been doing.”
From the start, Ohlendorf was in sync with catcher Jason Jaramillo. “For the most part, I just went with whatever JJ put down,” Ohlendorf said. “He and (Ryan) Doumit both always do good jobs calling games. Sometimes, I think too much. When I trust them more, it seems like I get into a better rhythm.”
»»» With the game tied 3-3 in the sixth, manager Clint Hurdle opted not to pinch-hit for Ohlendorf, who then lined a two-out single to left. But in the bottom of the inning, Ohlendorf served up Alfonso Soriano’s homer, which gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
Hurdle said he kept Ohlendorf in the game in part because the Pirates had a short bench — Andrew McCutchen was out with a sore neck, Doumit was the backup catcher and couldn’t pinch-hit. Hurdle also thought Ohlendorf — who in the fifth gave up Starlin Castro’s leadoff triple (Castro later scored to tie the game) and walked two batters — was doing well enough to stay in the game
“He was building confidence,” Hurdle said. “So give him one more inning, get him out there. That was the best I’ve ever seen him throw, so maybe I wanted to watch a little more of it. We figured we’d let him try the sixth inning.”
»»» The Pirates won a road series in their first try this season. That’s saying a lot, considering the team won just four road series all of last year. Two of those road series wins came at Wrigley Field.