The Cubs aimed to extend their modest three-game winning streak Tuesday night against the Pirates, a team that had been giving them fits in the early going. Chicago was able to do just that with a big boost from a couple of minor league call-ups who made an immediate impact.
Keegan Thompson got his second start of the season and continued to pitch well, throwing five scoreless innings with plenty of support from his teammates at the plate. Jonathan Villar hit his first home run in a Cubs uniform to give his team a 1-0 lead in the 3rd inning
The Pirates’ defense completely collapsed in the 4th inning, when an error and a misplayed pop-up put runners on the corners with nobody out. The Cubs made it hurt as Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run double and Frank Schwindel followed with another double. The home team had a 6-0 advantage by the time the frame was over.
The other rookie call-up, Christopher Morel, did not want to be left out of the party. The young utility player destroyed a long home run in his first career at-bat in the 8th inning to put the cap on the 7-0 final. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Thompson was outstanding yet again and the Cubs took advantage of the Pirates’ mistakes to make it a blowout.
Morel’s homer was an electric moment at Wrigley Field and the crowd went crazy. He got a high fastball from Chase De Jong and did not miss it, sending it way up the left-field bleachers and almost onto Waveland.
Stats That Matter
- Thompson was showing a changeup Tuesday and continues to dazzle: 5 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 5 K, and 0 BB.
- Schwindel is starting to heat up and had two more hits in this one.
- Villar had his best game in a long time with a hit in addition to the home run.
It was nice to see the Cubs start to beat up on a bad Pirates team after their early season struggles against them. More importantly, the rookie performances Tuesday are a great sign. Players like Hughes and Morel hitting it big might accelerate the rebuild, and it sure is fun to watch.
Chicago goes for the sweep at 7:40pm CT Wednesday. Drew Smyly goes for the Cubs against a TBD starter for Pittsburgh in a game being exclusively broadcast on YouTube with the radio feed available on 670 The Score.