The Cubs returned to Wrigley Field Monday trying to extend their modest winning streak to five. Chicago combined a good start with more clutch hitting to outlast the Pirates and keep the good times rolling with another win.
Pittsburgh took the lead in the top of the 2nd after a double from Ben Gamel and a run-scoring single from Oneil Cruz. The Cubs answered right back in the bottom of the frame with an Ian Happ double followed by a game-tying single from Nico Hoerner that just got past second baseman Josh VanMeter.
The ice-cold Rafael Ortega was able to snap out of his funk in a big way on Monday night, blasting a solo home run off of starter JT Brubaker in the 3rd inning. Adrian Sampson was good again on the hill for the Cubs but a VanMeter double in the 5th tied the score at two.
A Pirates throwing error set the stage for Chicago to take the lead in the 8th inning. Seiya Suzuki reached on the shortstop Cruz’s wayward toss to first and would score on a ringing double by Hoerner. Scott Effross came on in the 9th and recorded his first career save to finish off the 3-2 victory. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
They got another quality start from their pitcher and Hoerner keeps hitting in big spots.
Eye on the Future
- Hoerner went hitless on Sunday so there was no way he was going to come up empty Monday.
- Effross may end up being the Cubs closer if veteran arms are moved at the trade deadline.
Stats That Matter
- Sampson has done nothing but get people out since joining the rotation: 7 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 3 K, and 1 BB.
- Ortega had gone 0-29 before a single and the home run.
- The Cubs made four outs on the base paths Monday, not something you want to make a habit of in the future.
Suddenly, Chicago’s luck in one run games has completely turned around and they are winning. Improved pitching and big contributions from young players are the driving force behind the wins. It is certainly nice to get some uplifting developments with the specter of another sell-off looming.