The rubber match between the Cubs and Pirates featured dominant starting pitching performances on both sides, as Jose Quintana and Pittsburgh starter Joe Musgrove each entered the 7th inning without giving up a run. Quintana was masterful from the get-go, striking out the side in the top of the 1st inning.
All told, Quintana racked up 11 strikeouts over seven innings while giving up just four hits.
Musgrove was really good as well, but the Cubs finally got to him in the 7th when back-to-back RBI doubles from Daniel Descalso and Victor Caratini gave them a 2-0 lead. A long rain delay commenced prior to the start of the 8th inning, but the Cubs’ bullpen was able to get six more outs to preserve the 2-0 win once play resumed
Despite the lack of early offense, the game featured its share of oddities. Joe Maddon earned his first ejection of the season when home plate umpire Mike Estabrook gave him the thumb in the bottom of the 5th inning. It was one of the more polite manager ejections you’ll ever see, as Maddon calmly approached home plate to argue a called strike to Caratini despite Estabrook warning him to stay in the dugout. Maddon was ejected after a brief conversation, though neither side ever got particularly agitated.
The game got weirder when the Cubs’ half of the 6th inning ended on rather peculiar double-play. It started with Ben Zobrist running into a tag at home plate after Javy Baez grounded to third base. Baez never left the batter’s box and he was tagged out to end the inning. Javy contended that he fouled the ball off of his foot, though the play was never challenged. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Quintana’s outing was the most dominant of any Cubs starter this season. Q’s increased use of his changeup kept Pirates hitters out of sync most of the night. Offensively, the Cubs put two men on base in both the 5th and 6th innings, but came up empty each time. They were finally able to break through in the 7th with just enough offense to secure the win.
With one out in the bottom of the 7th, Jason Heyward hit a soft pop-up into shallow left field. Pirates shortstop Erik Gonzalez and third baseman Jung Ho Kang collided while trying to make the play, allowing the ball to drop and Heyward to reach second base. That opened the door for Descalso and Caratini to deliver their respective RBI doubles.
Stats That Matter
- The Cubs’ 2-6 hitters went a combined 0-for-17 Tuesday night. Nice to see the bottom of the order pick them up.
- This was Quintana’s 13th career double-digit strikeout performance.
- Maddon’s first ejection of the season gives him 50 for his career. That’s good for 19th all-time among managers.
The Cubs will take a series win over a divisional opponent any way they can get it. Moving the game’s start time up 30 minutes turned out to be good call, as the rain delay came just after the Cubs took the lead in the 7th. There’s no telling how things would have played out if the game had started as scheduled.
The Cubs will next welcome the Los Angeles Angels to town for a three-game interleague series starting Friday afternoon at 1:20pm CT. The Cubs have not officially named their starting pitcher but Cole Hamels figures to get the nod as he is next up in the rotation. He would oppose lefty Tyler Skaggs for the Halos. NBC Sports Chicago will have the telecast and 670 The Score has the radio feed.