Cubs finish off sweep of Pirates in thrilling fashion
The Cubs keep finding ways to win.
They came out on top of a hard-fought battle with the Pirates Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field thanks to some 11th-inning heroics by Javy Báez in a 2-1 victory.
It was the Cubs’ first walk-off win since July 16 of last season and Báez’s 3rd career walk-off RBI, prompting a socially distanced celebration.
“I wanted to bring out the masks and have everyone jump on him,” Kyle Schwarber said. “It was pretty good there. I think everyone wanted to dogpile Javy, but then we were like, ‘let’s keep it down a little bit. Let’s be cool, show that we’re being responsible here.'”
After a rain delay lasting 1 hour and 4 minutes, the game went into extra innings with the new rule taking effect of a runner on second base to start each frame.
“We won, so so far, so good,” said a laughing Ross about the extra-inning rule. “It definitely puts a lot of heat in the moment and you’re not having everybody trying to hit homers. I think sometimes in extra innings, it ends up being home run derby.
“These guys, you feel that sense of having good at-bats, things that we preach about moving the baseball and getting runners over and all the little details that matter in winning. I liked it — showed a lot of areas that we can improve, that’s for sure.”
The Cubs held the Pirates scoreless in the top of the 10th thanks to a fantastic throw from Schwarber to nab the runner at home plate. They couldn’t push across a run in the bottom of the frame despite the runner (Steven Souza Jr.) stealing third base with nobody out.
In the 11th, the Pirates again ran into an out on the basepaths as the designated runner was nabbed at third on a grounder to Báez at shortstop. David Bote led off the home half of the inning on second base and moved to third on Anthony Rizzo’s sacrifice fly before Báez singled him home.
Starter Jon Lester gave up a home run, a single and a walk in the 1st inning, but settled in from there and wound up allowing just the 1 run over 6 innings. He struck out 4 and surrendered 4 hits, tossing 89 pitches and moving his season ERA to 0.82.
The Cubs bullpen has struggled in the early going, but they stepped up big with 5 shutout innings to buy the offense time to put together a walk-off.
Casey Sadler got the call first out of the ‘pen and went 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk. Dan Winkler came on in the 8th to strike out Colin Moran and then worked around a leadoff walk in the top of the 9th to put up another 0 on the scoreboard.
Ryan Tepera and Jeremey Jeffress each tossed a shutout inning in extras.
The Cubs lineup didn’t put up the type of performance we’ve seen from them over the first week-and-a-half of the season, but they scored enough to get the job done. Schwarber plated a run in the 5th inning with an RBI double as Willson Contreras ran through the stop sign and jarred the ball loose on a slide at home plate.
The Cubs are now 7-2 on the young season and will welcome in the Kansas City Royals to Wrigley Field Monday night. Catch all the action on Marquee Sports Network beginning with Cubs Live! at 6 p.m.