When the Cubs pulled out of their offensive torpor of recent days and had a seven-run inning, my first thought (and yours too, be honest) was, “How are they going to blow this lead?”
But they didn’t. Not only that, they added seven more runs and blew out the Pirates 14-5, paying them back in part for the two blowout defeats Monday and Tuesday.
There are lots of highlights to look at here, so let’s get to them.
After a scoreless first, the Cubs loaded the bases on a Jonathan Villar double, Nico Hoerner single and Jason Heyward being hit by a pitch in the top of the second. Alfonso Rivas was then also HBP to make it 1-0 Cubs.
With the bases thus still loaded, Rafael Ortega cleared them [VIDEO].
One out later, Patrick Wisdom made it 5-0 [VIDEO].
That was a nice pice of hitting by Wisdom, going with the pitch and lining it up the middle instead of trying to do too much and smash the ball. (He did do that later on.)
Ian Happ completed the seven-run inning with this two-run homer [VIDEO].
That ball went a long way:
After a Diego Castillo solo homer off Keegan Thompson in the bottom of the second, the Cubs added two more in the fourth. Ortega led off with a walk and one out later, Wisdom did crush a baseball [VIDEO].
As the video shows, that ball landed in almost the exact spot Happ’s did, only with a higher launch angle:
The Cubs made it 10-1 in the fifth on a sac fly by Nico Hoerner [VIDEO].
Those 10 runs were all off Jerad Eickhoff, who was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis to make this start. I assume that was to help save the Pirates bullpen — see, the Cubs aren’t the only team doing this. Fun fact about Eickhoff’s start:
Jerad Eickhoff is the first pitcher to allow 10 ER in consecutive starts since Chubby Dean in 1940. https://t.co/uQdBJejik5— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 23, 2022
Also, per the Marquee broadcast. this was the third time since 2009 the Cubs had scored 10 runs off a single pitcher. The other two were also Pirates: Steven Brault (September 13, 2019) and Charlie Morton (August 14, 2009).
While all this was going on, Keegan Thompson was breezing through the Pirates lineup. Apart from Castillo’s homer, really the only mistake he made, Thompson allowed just three other hits and a walk and struck out seven. After a couple of rough outings earlier in June, Thompson’s last two starts: 12 innings, six hits, one run, 16 strikeouts. Keep up the great work!
The Cubs added four in the ninth off Castillo, another position player pitching. I’ve made my position on this clear, though the “mercy rule” I suggest wouldn’t have ended this game until after Alfonso Rivas hit a grand slam off Castillo [VIDEO].
After that slam, reliever David Robertson took his first professional at-bat (the Marquee broadcast said it was his first MLB at-bat, but he didn’t bat in the minor leagues, either). Predictably, he struck out [VIDEO].
A pitcher batting against a position player. Was that amusing? Or was it farce?
With a 13-run lead, Daniel Norris was entrusted to finish things off, which he did, though not until he had to throw 33 pitches (only 11 for strikes). Granted, he didn’t have any help from his defense (two errors), which made the four runs he allowed all unearned. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
So the complaint department is closed regarding this game, which was the first Cubs win by more than five runs since they beat the Reds 11-4 on May 24.
But that department isn’t closed regarding Marquee’s broadcast. I’ve also made my position clear about that, but the bottom of the fifth inning was just ridiculous. They spent the entire inning interviewing Pittsburgh-area native Ian Happ’s high school coach, showing photos of Happ in HS, and completely ignoring the action on the field. I heard from a friend of mine, a Mets fan, who occasionally watches Cubs games because he knows I’m a big Cubs fan. He told me he turned the game off because of this interview and switched to another game. There’s also this reaction:
Boy. It would be nice if the @WatchMarquee announcers (you know who they are, I'm not saying their names) would tell us whats going on in the game instead of just rambling on over multiple batters.— Kasey Ignarski (@kaseyi99) June 23, 2022
And they completely missed Nelson Velázquez coming into the game, replacing Happ, because of this interview.
I’ll grant that the interview appeared to have some interesting info about Happ. But this is the sort of thing you put in a pregame show, not interrupting the actual game. Literally no other regional sports network does this. When I tune into a live game, I want to see and hear about the game. Period. No sideshows. In addition, I found on Twitter this criticism of Marquee broadcasts, with which I concur:
The broadcast is too technical. The PxP guy gives the exit velo for every hit. WHO CARES, IT MEANS NOTHING TO FANS. Then a 5 minute diatribe about how Pat Wisdom is "pull severe". How is that interesting at all to young fans? I cannot possibly relate how bad this is. @Cubs— Billy Krumb (@ClubhouseCancer) June 23, 2022
I could go on, but you get the idea. As I wrote in the article linked above, these broadcasts border on unwatchable.
The Cubs will go for a series split in a day game today, Thursday. It begins at 11:35 a.m. CT, just in time for an early lunch. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and our old friend Jose Quintana gets the call for the Pirates. TV coverage is via Marquee Sports Network. The BCB game preview will post here at 10 a.m. CT.