This one looked like it might be a pitchers’ duel through the first four innings, but the Cubs broke it open in the 5th and hung crooked numbers in two subsequent frames to win going away. The early scoring came on a two-out rally that started when Zach McKinstry and Esteban Quiroz worked walks to set the table for Patrick Wisdom. The Cubs’ home run leader came through with a first-pitch blast to center that gave him 25 on the year.
Quiroz helped to start another rally in the 7th with a leadoff single, after which former Cub Duane Underwood Jr. plunked Wisdom with a fastball. Ian Happ singled home a run to extend his team lead to 70 RBI, then a chopper from Nelson Velázquez snuck past a drawn-in Oneil Cruz to score two more.
The Cubs tacked on another pair the following inning with a mix of small ball and poor Pirates defense. Quiroz was once again in the middle of things, driving in a run with a single to right and advancing McKinstry to third. A wild pitch had McKinstry breaking for home, but the ball bounced directly off the brick backstop and right to catcher Jason Delay and sent the runner back to third.
Delay’s throw was off by roughly 15 feet, allowing McKinstry to score his team’s final run. They didn’t need a snowman because starter Adrian Sampson was cold as ice on the mound over six innings of one-run ball. He Needed only 67 pitches to notch his fourth straight quality start, working efficiently by throwing first-pitch strikes and getting the Pirates to generate outs via contact.
As expected, this was one of those games that saw a team more or less mail it after falling behind. That happened to be the Pirates this time after the Cubs did as much the previous evening. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
They took advantage of the ample opportunities afforded by an inferior team and pushed runs across in a number of different ways. Their top five batters reached base a total of 11 times, clogging the bases and putting pressure on the Pirates to make plays.
Eye on the Future
- Nico Hoerner collected a single in his return to the lineup
- Sampson has made a very strong case for a role on next year’s team: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
- Keegan Thompson pitched two scoreless, hitless innings of relieve with three strikeouts
- Each of the top four batters scored at least one run
- Michael Hermosillo was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is batting .115 on the season
This win really doesn’t mean much because it’s just a matter of mailing it in at this point. If, however, you are a believer in positive momentum and finishing strong, I suppose you could take that away.
The Cubs are off Monday before welcoming Kyle Schwarber and the Phillies to Wrigley Field for a three game set that opens Tuesday at 6:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.