Cubs offense explodes in blowout win over Pirates
|Thursday, June 23, 2022, 9:14 AM- -|
PITTSBURGH - After getting outscored 19-2 over the first two games of this series, the Chicago Cubs (26-43) seriously needed a wake-up call. Fortunately for them, they had Keegan Thompson going on the bump as he has emerged as the team's ace this season.
Looking to build off his career outing last time, Thompson continued to do his thing on Wednesday, firing six strong innings of one-run ball and lowering his ERA to 3.10. Mix that with an offensive attack that bludgeoned the Pittsburgh Pirates (28-40), and it led to success as the Cubs made quick work of the Buccos 14-5 at PNC Park.
The win not only ended a three-game skid where the Cubs were outscored 25-2, but Thompson continues to impress as he now sits at 7-2 on the season. Granted, he didn't start the season in the rotation, but he was their best pitcher all spring and has been their best pitcher all season. That has translated to the results, and he has become the ace of this staff.
Opposing him was the veteran Jerad Eickhoff, who was making his first start of the season. Things did not go well for him as he was charged with 10 earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. Technically it was 3 1/3 as he tossed a scoreless first before things came unglued in a hurry.
Right from the start, the Cubs had the Pirates in trouble stranding a pair of runners in the first. Once the second inning started, those runners would come home as Jonathan Villar led the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a Nico Hoerner single. With Jason Heyward getting hit by a pitch to load the bases, Alfonso Rivas followed suit, taking one off the foot to put the Cubs up 1-0 and kept the bases loaded.
Rafael Ortega followed that up with a hard-hit double to center to bring home a pair before Patrick Wisdom picked up a two-run single to make things 5-0. Ian Happ capped off the massive seven-run inning with a long home run to center field as the Cubs were in complete control of this game, 7-0. The lone run off of Thompson came in the bottom half of the second when Diego Castillo took him deep to make things 7-1. Apart from that, the Pirates offense was quiet as the Cubs were a team on a mission on Wednesday.
Not only did the Cubs score seven times in the second inning, but throughout three more innings, they managed to push across seven additional runs as their offense was in high gear. With a pair of runs driven in off a single, Wisdom was not done yet as he homered for the second straight game in the fourth and extended the lead to 9-1.
A Hoerner sacrifice fly in the fifth inning pushed the lead to 10-1 as that was the bulk of the offense for the time being. Nelson Velazquez continues to see playing time late in games, which lately has been working as he reached base with a walk in the sixth only to be left stranded.
While Thompson was impressive in his outing, Mychal Givens was shaky at best in the seventh inning as he had to work around a hit by a pitch and a walk to toss a scoreless outing. He was replaced by David Robertson in the eighth, who not only threw a scoreless frame, but made his first-ever plate appearance in the top of the ninth, capping off a 14-year wait.
Still holding that 10-1 lead in the ninth, the Cubs had one last hurray offensively, which began with a Velazquez walk to lead things off. With two outs in the inning, Andrelton Simmons worked a walk to keep the inning alive before Heyward was hit by his second pitch of the night, which loaded the bases.
Looking at the worst to drive in a pair, Rivas did much better as he turned on an inside pitch and lined it over the right-field fence for his first career Grand Slam, which made things 14-1. The Pirates managed to push home four runs in the ninth off Daniel Norris, but most of that came on the Bligh Madris bases-clearing double as the Cubs picked up a much-needed 14-5 win.
Ortega led the way with three hits from the leadoff spot and has now seen his average rise to .270. Wisdom, Villar, and Rivas added multi-hit games, with Wisdom (4) and Rivas (5) having the best nights in terms of offensive threats.