Pirates, Jordan Lyles pounded in series finale vs. Cubs
It is difficult to gauge what was most explosive in Pittsburgh on this Fourth of July: the annual fireworks, Joe Maddon’s temper or the Chicago Cubs offense.
The Cubs tagged Jordan Lyles and reliever Clay Holmes for four home runs and nine extra-base hits in avoiding a four-game sweep by the Pittsburgh Pirates with an 11-3 win Thursday.
The Pirates were limited to six hits (four of them singles) by Jose Quintana and two others after posting 29 runs and 41 hits over the first three games of this series.
The only thing hotter than Josh Bell, Adam Frazier & Co. over the prior three days might have been Maddon during a bizarre sequence in the top of the fourth inning. The veteran Cubs manager was ejected by home plate umpire Joe West after star shortstop Javier Baez was attended to by training personnel when one of four high-and-inside Lyles pitches narrowly missed him.
“I appreciate (pitching) inside. I don’t appreciate up and in,” Maddon told reporters, “and neither do the rest of us.”
— Christopher Horner (@Hornerfoto1) July 4, 2019
After being ejected, Maddon stormed out of the dugout, appearing to want to confront his Pirates counterpart, Clint Hurdle, who stood on the top step of the Pirates dugout (Hurdle said he couldn’t hear what Maddon was saying or to whom). West and members of the Cubs restrained Maddon.
“(The Pirates) just need to be careful,” Maddon said. “I love their players. It’s a real good team. And they’re good guys. … But if they keep pitching like that, a lot of these guys are not going to like their pitching staff.”
Lyles said — and the statistics back it up — he is among the pitchers in the major leagues who throw the most high fastballs. Lyles has hit one batter in 731⁄3 innings this season.
“Maybe (Maddon) was trying to get the boys to get a little light up in ’em or something?” Lyles said. “But, yeah, I throw a lot of fastballs up and in.”
Making his second start since returning from the injured list because of left hamstring tightness, Lyles’ line was not pretty: seven earned runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings. Kris Bryant, Albert Amora Jr. and Willson Contreras hit home runs off him.
That caused Hurdle, in reference to the high-and-inside pitches, to quip about Lyles: “I think he didn’t want to give up any more homers.”
“Nobody likes the ball up and in, so I can understand there is some angst involved,” Hurdle said of the Cubs. “There’s always going to be angst involved in the game of baseball, (and) a manager is always going to try to protect his team and share his feelings.”
When the brouhaha ended, Lyles struck out Baez with another high fastball. It was only a 4-3 Cubs lead at that point, but things fell apart in the following inning. Chicago scored five times on six hits, a walk and a hit batter that elicited a warning from West for Holmes and the Pirates dugout.
After the Pirates won eight of Lyles’ first nine starts, they have lost five of his past six outings.
“He got in too many hitters’ counts, No. 1,” Hurdle said. “The fastball got into some bad locations, No. 2. And some of the breaking balls didn’t have the bite or the depth that he wanted. Those were pretty much the ones that were hit hard.”
After going hitless in three consecutive games after the end of his 19-game hitting streak, Kevin Newman went 2 for 4 and scored on a Josh Bell third-inning sacrifice fly — his MLB-leading 81st RBI.
The loss denied the Pirates their first four-game sweep of the Cubs in Pittsburgh since 1969. It also prevented the Pirates to pull to .500 for the first time since May and to pull within two games of the NL Central lead. The Pirates (42-44) came in having won eight of 10 and 12 of their past 17. They also had a seven-game home winning streak snapped.
“We will come back tomorrow with the same mentality, the same vibe,” Newman said. “Like it didn’t happen.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .