The Cubs Thursday were in the zone from the jump in Pittsburgh Thursday evening as they buried the Pirates behind an impressive start from Justin Steele for their 69th win of the season.
Rafael Ortega began the game with a solo homer off of Miguel Yajure, then Chicago rocked the young starter for six in the 2nd inning. Highlights included a two-run Sergio Alcántara dinger and Ortega swiping home on a double steal.
A 7-0 lead hasn’t been safe for the Cubs in the past, but it was more than enough for Steele in his final appearance of 2021. The lefty threw seven shutout frames to follow Kyle Hendricks in closing the season on a high note.
Alcántara had an RBI single in a two-run 5th to boost the lead as the Cubs coasted to a 9-0 victory. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
A quality start combined with explosive offense is always a winning formula and Chicago had that in a big way Thursday.
The Cubs did not let the young Pirates starter off the hook in the 2nd. They had five hits, drew two walks, and stole three bases in the big inning.
Stats That Matter
- Thursday was Steele’s best start in the majors: 7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 7 K, and 1 BB. He had never gone seven innings before in his career and he even had a base hit in the 2nd.
- Willson Contreras had a pair of hits, including a double, as he continues his hot hitting in September.
- Alcántara had three hits in a very good effort.
It was a very promising game for Steele, even it’s just the lowly Pirates in the final week of a lost season. Steele will get a shot to earn a starting role in 2022 and Thursday’s effort certainly will not hurt his cause.
Chicago heads to St. Louis for the final series of 2021 Friday at 7:15pm CT. Dakota Hudson takes on yet to be named Cub starter in a contest airing on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.