The Pirates put a bunch of runners on base in the bottom of the sixth inning and in doing so, chased Cardinals starter Joe Kelly. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a walk. Following a lazy fly out by Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting with a double to left, putting runners on second and third with one out. With Pedro Alvarez coming to the plate, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered the intentional walk to load the bases before pulling Kelly for reliever Seth Maness.
Russell Martin swung at the first pitch he saw from Maness, a 91 MPH sinker, driving a high fly ball to center fielder Jon Jay. McCutchen scored easily, putting the Pirates up 3-2 with two outs in the sixth. Jose Tabata, pinch-hitting for Clint Barmes, grounded out to end the inning. As part of a double-switch, Jordy Mercer came in at shortstop in the nine-spot in the lineup.
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano did not take the hill in the seventh, having thrown 101 pitches. Reliever Tony Watson entered in the eight-spot in the lineup.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.