Cubs’ skipper David Ross drew up a lineup that was a bit peculiar and most likely created out of the need to give some of the regular starters a night off heading into a critical five-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Friday.
The Northsiders started off slowly tonight and it looked as though this might be another one of those inept offensive output nights. Hendricks allowed a 2nd inning solo home run to Colin Moran to give the Bucs the early lead. Fortunately for both the Cubs and Hendricks, Báez ripped a home run in the top of the 4th to put the Cubs up 3-1.
While Hendricks wouldn’t need any more runs, he continued cruising through six solid innings, then turned it over to the bullpen that gave up only one more run.
The Cubs took advantage of defensive miscues from the Pirates and added to their early lead.
In the top of the 7th, Anthony Rizzo drove in Willson Contreras and Nico Hoerner to make it 5-1 Cubs. Contreras added another in the 8th when he hit a ball to left that was trapped, scoring David Bote and giving the Cubs a 6-2 lead. Bucs shortstop Kevin Newman booted a Rizzo grounder that drove in Ian Happ and Contreras to finalize things at 8-2. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
Kyle Hendricks pitched six solid innings and was backed by a Báez blast along with late insurance runs thanks, in part, to some shoddy Pirates’ defense.
Báez launched a 443 ft bomb to deep left with two on in the top of the 4th to put the Cubs up 3-1.
Stats That Matter
- Contreras looked much better tonight at the plate with a much needed 3-for-5 performance that featured a double and three runs scored.
- Hendricks went 6 IP, giving up just six hits and one run while striking out six and walking two.
- Cubs push their record to 22-14 (2nd best in the NL) with just 24 games remaining.
- Happ remained hot with another two-hit night that leaves his slash line at .308/.420/.642.
Another win against a not-so-great Pirates ball club that lived up to that billing tonight. While Manager David threw out a lineup that was a bit of a head-scratcher, it worked out just fine and gave Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber some rest.
The Cubs stick around Pittsburgh and have to deal with a quick turnaround for an earlier game in the afternoon tomorrow. Alec Mills is slated to get the ball for the Cubs and he’ll face right-hander JT Brubaker of the Pirates. The game time is 12:35 pm Central and can be seen on Marquee. As always, you can also listen on 670 The Score.