It was a chippy, review-filled, aggression-fueled game tonight, and, ultimately, an important win for the Cubs.
The Cubs got to Gerrit Cole early, and pressed him by running wild on the bases. Then a four-run fifth inning put some distance between the Cubs and Pirates, and it was an “enough already” situation by the later innings.
Matt Szczur scored on a errant throw to the plate in that fifth inning, and came out of the game thereafter with a tight hamstring. While the allowed Javy Baez to enter the game and shine in all facets, as he does, it left the Cubs’ bench extremely thin, and outfield looking a bit precarious right now, given Jason Heyward’s wrist issue.
That, and some of the hit-by-pitch-related chippiness will have to be discussed some more tomorrow.
Meanwhile, on the pitching side, Jason Hammel was solid once again, working with a fairly tight zone in the early innings and limiting the Pirates’ opportunities. Adam Warren and Justin Grimm combined to be the middle innings closers, as Joe Maddon has referred to the latter and implied about the former, and Pedro Strop and Travis Wood finished things off. I’ll have to do some checking, but it feels like using four relievers in a win has been a very rare thing for the Cubs this year. And it could be five if you count Clayton Richard’s pinch hitting appearance.
Great nights from so many of the Cubs’ bats, but check this out …