The Pirates choke away a 7-0 lead, lose to the Mets 9-8

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There has been some ugly baseball played in this Pirates-Mets series, and today may have been the ugliest.

The Pirates had a 7-0 lead after three innings. The Mets’ comeback began conventionally enough with a three-run homer by Carlos Beltran. Then things got smaller and slightly unconventional in the sixth, with New York scoring runs on a couple of singles and one on a passed ball. It was tied 7-7 after six.

In the eighth inning it got a lot more nutty:  Ronny Paulino led off with a single and was pinch-run for by Willie Harris.  Chris Capuano was then called on to pinch hit, which obviously meant a bunt. He squared to bunt, and after a foul ball, Pirates pitcher Jose Veras was called for a balk, allowing Harris to advance to second.

Because Terry Collins doesn’t take in Mets games from a barcalounger like Jerry Manuel used to, he realized that the situation had changed and that a bunt was no longer called for given that there was a runner in scoring position and one out.  He pulled Capuano for Josh Thole, who drew a walk. Meanwhile, Harris had reached on a wild pitch and Ruben Tejada plated him with a sac fly. Then it became a parade of walks, with Daniel Murphy, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran all getting free passes, leading to one more run. At that point it’s 9-7 and the game is pretty much sealed.

That was the Mets biggest comeback in 11 years and their second biggest comeback of all time. Credit should go to Terry Collins, certainly, and to Beltran for that big blast.

The rest of it though? Boy, Pirates, that was exactly the kind of baseball that the Mets got yelled at for playing yesterday.  Just bad, bad stuff.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.