The Chicago Cubs completed a three-game sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday with a 2-1 win in eleven innings. They overcame a great pitching performance by Pittsburgh and an hour-long weather delay. With this win, the Cubs improved to 7-2 overall and 5-1 at Wrigley Field.
It was a contest dominated by the pitchers. The Pirates scored their only run in the first inning from a Kevin Newman home run. Other than that, starting pitcher Jon Lester kept the Pittsburgh offense quiet. He went six innings with four strikeouts. Lester boasts a 0.82 ERA through two starts.
Pittsburgh’s Steven Brault had no problem with the Cubs lineup. Brault only went three innings but kept Chicago hit-less. It was an impressive performance, as the Pirates went with pitching by committee approach. They used nine different pitchers in total, which held the Cubs to only four hits.
Chicago’s first run came in the fifth. Willson Contreras began the inning with a lead-off double. Kyle Schwarber followed it up with a double of his own to score Contreras and tie the game. The game would remain tied at 1 until the Cubs broke through in the eleventh. Not to mention the players had to sit tight through yet another rain delay.
Nevertheless, Javier Baez came through in the clutch, with a runner on third in extra innings. He managed to sneak the ball into center past an unorthodox five-man infield setup by Pittsburgh. Chicago walked off with that RBI single and had a comedic socially distanced celebration on the base paths. They were able to do just enough offensively to complete the sweep against their division rival.
Bullpen, Defense Impress
To many people’s surprise, the Cubs bullpen pitched a shutout. The numbers prior to Sunday’s match-up weren’t good, but their pitching didn’t represent that against Pittsburgh. Casey Sadler, Dan Winkler, and Ryan Tepera kept the opposition scoreless into extra innings, but it wasn’t without several great defensive plays by multiple positional players.
The biggest came in the top of the tenth when Schwarber connected with Contreras to throw Jacob Stallings out at home. It was a great play all-around. Contreras withstood a collision at the plate, and Schwarber’s throw was right on the money. The slugger has shown some major improvements defensively this season, which is probably why the team hasn’t be utilizing him at the DH spot. An honorable mention is Nico Hoerner‘s leaping catch the very next at-bat.
7-2 putout to lead off the 10th! pic.twitter.com/DxABlG2g90
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 2, 2020
Veteran right-hander Jeremy Jeffress continued his early success. He made quick work of the Pirates’ batters in the eleventh and ended up getting the win. Jeffress may transition into the team’s closer as Craig Kimbrel has consistently struggled early on. Another candidate could be Rowan Wick. Either way it’s nice to see the club has viable options within the bullpen because they’ll need all hands on deck down the stretch.
Chicago will be in action on Monday against the Kansas City Royals. They will play two games at home, before heading to Kauffman Stadium for two road games to finish the series. Alec Mills (0-0 3.00) will be on the mound for the Cubs in game one versus Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (0-0 5.79). The Royals come in on a three-game losing streak, so they will be desperate for a win.
Embed from Getty Images