Zach Davies shines in Cubs 3-2 win over Pirates
David Ross was cautiously optimistic to see what Zach Davies could do Friday afternoon against the Pirates.
In his last bullpen, Davies looked and felt very comfortable. But Ross has been around the game long enough to know not to buy into a good workout or practice.
“Hopefully that translates out into the game, you never know how that goes, same as batting practice,” Ross said. “Batting practice can be good and then things can be different in the game.”
But the good thing for the Cubs was that Davies did carry those good vibes from his last bullpen session to Friday’s game. Davies was terrific on the mound, pitching 7 shutout innings allowing just 5 hits, a walk and 1 strikeout as the Cubs beat the Pirates 3-2. He lowered his ERA 192 points, from 8.27 to 6.30.
It was the first quality start of the year for Davies, who looked like the pitcher the Cubs were hoping for when they acquired him from San Diego this offseason. He induced a lot of weak contact, with 14 of his outs coming via the ground ball. Those 14 ground ball outs were a career-high.
“The defense that’s out there is pretty incredible to me,” Davies said. “I kinda enjoy turning around and seeing every play out there being made.”
Arguably the most impressive feat, though, came in the 7th inning.
Davies allowed back-to-back singles and a walk to start the inning, loading the bases. He induced a ground ball on Todd Frazier that he flipped towards Willson Contreras for the first out. Then, he got another grounder back to him off Ka’ai Tom that he threw to Contreras and Contreras flipped it to Rizzo at home to escape the jam unscathed.
“With the double play, that’s just standard as a pitcher,” Davies said. “The hard come-backer you’re going to the plate and then Willson takes care of the rest. It just worked out perfect, that threw a curveball down and out of the zone, he hit it off the end of the bat, right back to me and just making sure you take your time.”
He escaped a jam in the 3rd inning, too. With one out, he hit Tom and Trevor Cahill’s bunt found a gap between Cub defenders, so there were two on with 1 out. He induced a fly out to Adam Frazier and a groundout to first from Bryan Reynolds to keep the Pirates at bay.
Pederson leads off
Joc Pederson set the tone at the top of the lineup.
Batting leadoff for the Cubs, Pederson was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI at the top of the lineup for the Cubs. It helped get things rolling for the Cubs, who scored a run in the first three innings of Friday’s win. The top three of the Cubs’ lineup – Pederson, Kris Bryant and Javy Báez – combined to go 6-for-12 in the win.
“I do what I can to get on base, help the team win,” Pederson said. “Get back to getting balls that you can put the barrel on.”
The Cubs had 9 hits in the win, all of them singles.
His 3-hit game was the first of his career since Sept. 25, 2019 against the Padres when he was a member of the Dodgers.
Kimbrel’s day off
In the 9th inning, Ross didn’t turn to Craig Kimbrel, instead leaving the save situation to other members of his bullpen. But Ross confirmed after the game that Kimbrel didn’t have an injury, he was just “down” for the day.
Andrew Chafin pitched the 8th inning and came back out in the 9th to face Colin Moran. He allowed a single and turned to Ryan Tepera, who allowed Moran to score and gave up a second run later in the inning.
Rex Brothers came on to grab the final out, but allowed a single to Wilmer Difo and hit Adam Frazier before inducing a flyout from Reynolds.