Game 11: Rivero makes move for the better


By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by The Associated Press

RiveroCubsGameCHICAGO — When Felipe Rivero’s fastball is on, it is a 100 mph, razor-edged scythe that cuts down batters. When it’s not, stuff like what happened in the eighth inning yesterday happens. “He’s got electric stuff,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There isn’t anybody who he can’t get out. Unfortunately, he dug himself a pretty big hole. It came down to still making pitches against good hitters.”

Rivero went into the inning with a two-run lead, but ratcheted up the drama level several notches by letting the Cubs load the bases. Kris Bryant walked. Anthony Rizzo was hit on the butt by a fastball. After that, Rivero moved from the center of the rubber to the third base side during his setup. That seemed to help him better harness his fastball. “It was a little tough from the beginning, with my delivery,” he said. “When I moved, that’s when it got a little bit better.”

Ben Zobrist battled Rivero through a 10-pitch at-bat. With his fastball still in doubt, Rivero tossed three straight changeups, which Zobrist fouled off. “I was trying to settle in with the changeup and get control of my fastball,” Rivero said. “When I saw he was waiting on (the changeup), that’s when I came with the fastball.” Zobrist went down swinging at a 95.3 mph four-seamer.

With two outs, Jason Heyward legged out an infield single. First baseman John Jaso stepped in front of second baseman Josh Harrison to snag the ball, but Hayward beat the toss to Rivero at the bag with a headfirst slide. Hurdle said he’d have to watch video of the play before assessing blame, but added, “It’s a play where you’d like to think you can get an out when the ball is hit that softly. We weren’t able to get one. We complicated it.”

With the bases loaded, Rivero fired a 98.7 mph fastball to pinch-hitter Willson Contreras, who hit a grounder to third baseman David Freese to snuff the threat.

>>> Harrison did his best to be a spark plug in his his first game in the leadoff spot. He went 2 for 4 — his second multi-hit game of the season — with a stolen base, although he did not score a run. In the second inning, Kyle Hendricks picked Harrison off first base after a leadoff single. In the fifth, Harrison shot a two-out single up the middle, but was stranded at second base when Starling Marte struck out.

>>> There’s still time to vote in my quickie, totally unscientific, for entertainment purposes only Twitter poll …

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates 4, Cubs 2: Freese kept getting on base, Cole hung tough and the relievers came up big

Notebook: In which Glasnow tweaks his delivery, J-Hay leads off and PNC Park gets set to host the Nits and ‘Eers

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

UPDATE 11:20 A.M. — Gregory Polanco was scratched due to what the team says is right groin discomfort. His status is day to day. According to the team, Polanco noticed the discomfort during yesterday’s game, but not on any specific play. … Also, Hurdle confirmed Cervelli was sick yesterday and was seen by the training staff before the game. Hurdle offered no further details.

UPDATE 12:17 P.M. – The Pirates changed their lineup again, putting Hanson at 2B instead of LF.

Pirates: Adam Frazier 6, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Francisco Cervelli 2, Josh Harrison 7, Alen Hanson 4, RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 27.00)

Cubs:  Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Ben Zobrist 9, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 8, Willson Contreras 2, RHP Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.08), Javy Baez 4

Gamecast: Entering this series, Cubs leadoff batter Kyle Schwarber was averaging 4.69 pitches per plate appearance, the most among qualified NL batters and third in the majors. … Since joining the Cubs in July 2013, Arrieta is 17-9 with a 2.18 ERA in 32 day game starts at Wrigley Field. … Over his career, Arrieta is 9-3 with a 2.96 ERA vs. the Pirates. However, the Pirates have hit at a .329 clip with three home runs over their past three games against Arrieta.

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, 1.38) vs. Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 1.64)

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 2.25) vs. Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.23)

>>> Tuesday’s game: Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: MLB Network. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 2.38) vs. Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (1-0, 0.60)

>>> Wednesday’s game: Pirates at Cardinals, 1:45 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-1, 5.29) vs. Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (1-1, 3.00)