The Cubs looked to build on a victory in the first game of the series against the Pirates Wednesday night at a warm and windy Wrigley Field. They fell in a big hole early but were able to exploit Pittsburgh’s bullpen for a second consecutive night to earn an impressive comeback victory.
Drew Smyly was not sharp and the Pirates made him pay for it from the opening inning. Andrew McCutchen hit a solo home run to begin the game and two batters later, fellow veteran Carlos Santana hit a two-run shot to put the road team ahead 3-0.
The Cubs got a run back against Osvaldo Bido, who was making his MLB debut, on an RBI single from Dansby Swanson in the bottom of the frame. Despite getting numerous baserunners, Chicago was unable to score any more on Bido in his four innings of work. A Santana run-scoring single and a rare solo home run from catcher Austin Hedges put Pittsburgh up 5-1 after the 5th.
The North Siders finally took advantage of a scoring opportunity against reliever Roansy Contreras in the 6th inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Nick Madrigal, who worked a full count and then was awarded first base when Contreras violated the pitch clock for ball four to cut the lead to 5-2.
Mike Tauchman then lined a single back up the middle to bring home two more and make it just a one-run game. Yohan Ramirez came in to pitch at that point and, after a walk loaded the bases with two outs, he gave up the go-ahead two-run knock to Ian Happ. Swanson was able to cap the six-run explosion with a second RBI single.
The Pirates cut the lead back to one on a Santana sacrifice fly against Michael Fulmer in the top of the 7th. Chicago got three gigantic insurance tallies in the 8th on a two-run double from Seiya Suzuki and an RBI single from Trey Mancini. Adbert Alzolay entered in the 9th and put a couple runners on base before closing out the 10-6 triumph. (Box score)
Tauchman made an amazing running catch on the sac fly in the 7th robbing what would have been a sure game-tying double with a runner on second. The grab up against the ivy was the second amazing play the Palatine native has made this week.
2nd and 3rd, 1 out, Cubs nursing a 2-run lead…
If this ball gets down, it's a tie game. Instead, Mike Tauchman saved the day. pic.twitter.com/K2Wtzxom2t
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) June 15, 2023
Why the Cubs Won
For once, they are the team running up the score on someone else’s bullpen. Meanwhile, their own relief corps was able to survive relatively unscathed.
Stats That Matter
- Smyly wasn’t great, but he gave his team innings and the hitters bailed him out for a change: 6 IP, 5 R, 9 H, 4 K, and 1 BB.
- Tauchman had three hits, two RBIs, and two runs in probably his best game as a Cub.
- Suzuki had a couple more knocks and has his OPS up to .825.
- Swanson is heating up as well with his own three-hit night.
Winning this series is huge for the Cubs and suddenly they are right back in a very bad National League Central race. This is the kind of game they would have lost badly at other points in the last month or more because they couldn’t battle back after being down big in the early innings. Perhaps this is the start of a run of a winning stretch of play, which would certainly be a refreshing change from the last six weeks.