It's only one game but ... Cubs get two hits against Bucs

The lineup carried its long-standing issues into the first game of 2021

It's only one game but ... Cubs get two hits against Bucs

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This was how most Cubs fans dealt with the lack of hitting shown by their team Opening Day against the Pirates on Thursday:

Only, it wasn't one hit for the Cubs; it was two. Twice as many! And they were doubles. But when you see the Pittsburgh Pirates coming to town, a team whose ownership is, let's say, noncommittal about providing the resources required to win, you expect more. At least three or four hits, right?

There was no such thing in a 5-3 loss to the Pirates. After right-hander Chad Kuhl opened with three OK-whatever innings, new Pirates manager Derek Shelton used the bullpen like it was win-or-go-home time. It's a best-of-162 right now, Skip. Pittsburgh does appear to have some live arms in the pen, notably former Cubs right-hander Duane Underwood Jr. and left-hander Sam Howard. They combined to strike out all six batters they faced. How likely is it that six opposing pitchers will combine again for 11 strikeouts over six scoreless innings in relief?

Better luck next time, Cubs bats. And there will be a next time; 161 more of them, in fact, weather permitting. More good news, if you accept the science of PECOTA: The Cubs project to score more runs than anyone else in the NL Central and project to finish seventh in the majors in scoring. Even reverting to the middle on offense would be OK.

833 runs in a lot. Only 830 to go!

The problem with saying the Cubs offensive woes are for "only one game" is that they've been struggling to score runs for a while, and they haven't been an elite scoring machine for four years. When the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, they finished third in runs scored, and were fourth the next season. In 2018-19, they finished 11th both times in runs scored. In the shortened 2020 season, the Cubs finished 20th in runs scored. The Cubs presumably have much more time, this time, to straighten out their offense. We're talking about Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Joc Pederson and Ian Happ. Over 162 games, they'll hit. Or should. It's OK to be disappointed in an Opening Day dud. But also remember: By late Saturday (there's no game today, so don't go looking for it), we could be talking about how the Cubs shouldn't "get too high" or how they should "save some runs for tomorrow," because they just beat the Pirates 12-2.

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