Cubs Record: 47-20 (1st in NL Central)
W:Kyle Hendricks (5-6)
L: Jameson Taillon (1-1)
MVP: Kyle Hendricks
The Cubs just swept the Pirates…again! It was a 10-5 victory in which the Cubs blasted five home runs, one of them being Willson Contreras’ first career shot. It must also be noted that his first long ball came in his the first pitch of his first career at-bat. This kid is going places.
The Cubs got their first tally in the bottom of the 1st when Anthony Rizzo singled to drive in Chris Coghlan. In the bottom of the 2nd, Javier Baez launched his sixth dinger of the year to put the Cubs up 2-0. The North Siders struck again in the 3rd when Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo went back-to-back — the sixth time the Cubs have done that this season — with solo shots to push the lead to 4-0.
The Pirates got one of those runs back in the 4th when Josh Harrison homered with two outs. Fast-forward to the bottom of the 6th and Willson Contreras’s first career at-bat as a pinch hitter. He saw one pitch and launched it into the center field bleachers for a two-run homer, making him the eighth Cub and 117th overall player to hit a home run in his first career at-bat.
The Pirates scored three times in their half of the seventh on a triple by Starling Marte and a single by Jung Ho Kang, making it a 6-4 ballgame. Then the Cubs decided they weren’t done yet and scored four times in the bottom of the 7th, with two of those runs coming courtesy of an Addison Russell home run.
In the 9th, the Pirates tried to rally but only scored one run making it 10-5 which was the eventual final score.
There were so many good things about today’s game and, honestly, that’s a great problem to have
Kyle Hendricks was really, really good today. He went six innings, giving up only one run while striking out 12. You’ll notice that he was the MVP of the game when that title could have gone to so many other players. Hendricks is underrated on a pitching staff with guys like Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, but he really can pitch well and strike out plenty of batters.
The Cubs were great with the bat and launched five home runs. It’s a great thing in to have a lineup where everyone can contribute. Out of the starting nine, only two Cub hitters did not have a hit.
Despite a Cubs win, the bullpen gave up four runs over three inning. Clayton Richard and Adam Warren were both charged with two earned runs. Luckily for the Cubs, they had a lead and were able to add on, but there’s no secret that if the Cubs have a weak spot, it is the bullpen.
The Pirates bullpen had woes of its own. Their starter, Jameson Taillon left the game after giving up four runs over four innings but still kept his team in the game. After the bullpen took over, they gave up six runs over four innings putting the game slightly out of reach.
This title can also go multiple ways.
Kyle Hendricks was ugly…if you were a Pirate batter. He had 12 strikeouts, including eight of the nine Pirates starters. Three of those K’s were to Andrew McCutchen who is one of the Pirates’ big guns.
As mentioned above, it’s safe to say that the bullpen work of both teams was just plain old ugly. When the Cubs face a divisional rival, the game always see-saws in the scoring department and bad bullpens inevitably add to that.
The Cubs start a three-game series with the Cardinals Monday night and Willson Contreras is making his first Major League start. He’ll be behind the plate catching John Lackey. If the eruption at Wrigley after his first home run was any indication of how much the fans already love this guy, the residents of Wrigleyville might have to file noise complaints when he steps on the field as a starter.