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Cubs 17, Pirates 8: Anthony Rizzo, Nico Hoerner lead all the hitting you could possibly ask for

Now THAT was entertaining, and an important win.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The lasting image in my head from the Cubs’ ridiculous 17-8 win over the Pirates is the one at the top of this recap.

It’s Anthony Rizzo, jumping into Jon Lester’s arms after he hit his third-inning grand slam that gave the Cubs their second five-run inning (!) of the game.

You could almost feel all the “uptightness,” as Joe Maddon put it before the game, being released in that one moment.

There are a lot of things to talk about for this crazy game, so the beginning is the best place... the place where it appeared the Cubs simply forgot how to play defense. After a leadoff single, Willson Contreras decided to throw to second with a runner going... on ball four. That ball went into center field and Albert Almora Jr. threw it somewhere in the general direction of Addison Street, and by the time all that nonsense was over, the Pirates had a run.

You might not believe all that, but here is video evidence of all the misplays.

Jon Lester retired the next two hitters, but then a walk, triple and double made it 4-0.

This was not a good way to begin this game, no, not at all.

And yet, the Cubs marched right back and took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Rizzo, who’s staying in the leadoff spot for now, began with a single.

Nicholas Castellanos cut the lead to 4-2 [VIDEO].

That was Castellanos’ 15th home run as a Cub... in 40 games. His season total of 26 matches his career high, set in 2017.

The Cubs were not done hitting home runs!

One out later, Willson Contreras brought the Cubs within one run [VIDEO].

Holy moly, that ball was CRUSHED!

Kyle Schwarber followed that with a double, and then... welcome to Wrigley Field, Nico Hoerner! [VIDEO]

That one, it should be said, had a bit of help from the 20 mile per hour wind blowing out. (The others didn’t.) Still, a homer is a homer, and on the first pitch he saw at Wrigley. Nice work, and the Cubs had a 5-4 lead.

Lester settled down in the second, and in the third he allowed a two-out double to Pablo Reyes. Adam Frazier hit a ball to deep second base, and Reyes tried to score, and was thrown out by David Bote [VIDEO].

The play was reviewed and ruled “call confirmed,” and then the Cubs’ bats got to work again in the bottom of the inning.

Contreras, redux! [VIDEO]

It’s now 6-4 Cubs, and yes, you should keep track because a lot more is coming, The next two hitters were out, but then a walk, single and walk (to Lester!) loaded the bases for Rizzo [VIDEO].

You could just feel the joy in Rizzo as he hugged Lester. I just loved that. (And Pedro Strop dancing by himself in the bullpen.)

Paul is absolutely right. That’s leadership shown by Rizzo. Love it. Also, Rizzo’s slam set a franchise record:

It’s 10-4 and the Cubs loaded the bases again on walks, but Schwarber struck out to end the inning.

The Cubs gave the Pirates three runs back in the fifth on a couple of hits and a truly awful throwing error by Contreras on a play that should have ended the inning, and at this point Joe is simply trying to get Lester through five innings for a “win,” which is dumb:

Totally agree with this. The individual pitcher win means nothing. Win the game and stop asking Jon Lester to go over 100 pitches when he was clearly getting gassed. All three runs were unearned due to Contreras’ error, but still.

And then the Cubs simply blew the game open in the fifth, and all after a ground ball that was originally called the third out was overturned on review [VIDEO].

The next eight Cubs all reached base. Contreras singled and Schwarber was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.

Come on down, Nico! [VIDEO]

Hoerner’s two-run single made it 12-7 and gave Nico a special place in Cubs and MLB history:

Pretty good company there. Also:

Interesting group of players, for sure.

Another walk re-loaded the bases and Jason Heyward batted for Almora [VIDEO].

Heyward’s well-struck two-run double made it 15-7. Ian Happ had been on deck to bat for Lester, but with that hit, Joe sent up Tony Kemp instead. The hit parade continued [VIDEO].

Kemp’s RBI single made it 16-7 and after Rizzo songled for his third hit of the game, Castellanos put the Cubs a touchdown and a field goal ahead [VIDEO].

The Cubs put up a seven-run inning — all after two out and no one on base, AND after the third out had to be overturned on review, all tremendously impressive.

More on all the run-scoring:

With all that happening through five innings — which took well over two hours — the Cubs had a shot at scoring 20 runs for the first time since 2001. But the offense, perhaps tired out from all the running around the bases, was quiet the rest of the game. All the starters save Hoerner and Bote were removed and given part of the day off.

Meanwhile, Brad Wieck struck out the side in the sixth, an impressive outing, and Alec Mills threw the final three innings, allowing just one run and posting his first big-league save.

These kinds of games are great fun, despite lasting almost four hours, and especially when your team wins. The top of the first was horrific, and almost gave the impression that the Cubs simply didn’t have it this game, or this year. And yet, they came back and absolutely demolished the Pirates. Rizzo’s hug symbolized the comeback and hopefully, the energy they have for the rest of the homestand and season.

Thought you would like to see my scorecard for this game (link to larger image):

The Brewers and Cardinals are playing in St. Louis at the time of this recap posting, scoreless early on. If the Brewers win, the Cubs and Brewers will remain tied, and both will gain a game on St. Louis.

As usual, Joe Maddon has the perfect summary of this game:

The Cubs will try to keep this high-scoring energy going Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and James Marvel (yes, really!) will go for the Pirates. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago (and again on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Pirates market territories).

It feels like this team is once again energized. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a long winning streak.