To say things have been a little difficult for the Chicago Cubs lately is kinda like saying the Grand Canyon is small hole in the ground. The Cubs entered Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on a four-game losing streak, the last two losses coming via walk-off comebacks.
Jon Lester took the hill for the Cubs looking to end their slide. His command was less than sharp early on, walking five Pirates batters, but he bore down to work out of two bases-loaded jams, allowing no runs over six innings.
The Cubs broke a scoreless tie on Kris Bryant‘s solo home run in the 7th. Ian Happ added an insurance run in the 8th, scoring on a throwing error. Those two runs would be all the Cubs needed. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
The Pirates loaded the bases on three separate occasions, twice against Jon Lester and once against Tyler Chatwood, but they failed to get a clutch hit to cash in on these scoring chances. Both Lester and Chatwood stepped up their focus in those tense situations, allowing the Cubs to get the win.
In the top of the 7th inning, Kris Bryant drilled the first pitch of the at-bat into the left field seats giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. It was only the second hit allowed by Pirates’ starter Steven Brault over seven innings pitched.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Cubs were clinging to a 1-0 lead. Chatwood hit Starling Marte‘s elbow to load the bases for Josh Bell, who hit a ground ball to Anthony Rizzo to get the Cubs out of the inning with the lead.
Stats that Matter
- Jon Lester didn’t have his best stuff today but he hung in there and pitched effectively when he needed to most: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 3 K
- Tyler Chatwood and Rowan Wick both pitched well out of the bullpen, with Wick recording his first MLB save by pitching a scoreless 9th inning.
- The Pirates finished 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11 runners on base.
This game felt like a must-win for the Cubs in order to prevent a complete tailspin after two heartbreaking losses. They will look for their first road series victory in nearly three months in tomorrow’s series finale, the Little League Classic played in Williamsport, PA.
José Quintana (10-7, 4.11 ERA) will take the ball for the Cubs after recording a personal best 14 strikeouts his last time out. He will face Pittsburgh right hander Mitch Keller (1-1, 7.94 ERA). Chicago-area fans can listen on 670 The Score, and the television broadcast will be available nationally on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.