The Cubs defeated the Pirates 4-2 on a gorgeous Chicago summer afternoon at Wrigley Field for their sixth straight victory, and Keegan Thompson showed once again why he’s part of the future of this team... and I know all you want to talk about is Willson Contreras’ likely farewell to Wrigley as a Chicago Cub.
Contreras received multiple loud, long standing ovations from the 30,978 at Wrigley, including following the game when he returned to the field to be interviewed by Marquee Sports Network’s Taylor McGregor:
Willson Contreras and Ian Happ were the final two players in the dugout. They shared this embrace. pic.twitter.com/Y6GIvRMvqh— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) July 26, 2022
There will be plenty of time to talk about Willson’s Cubs legacy if, in fact, a trade is finalized (and I know there are Cubs/Mets trade rumors flying as I write this recap), but for the moment, nothing’s happening:
For clarity, “Nothing’s happened,” as Ross noted postgame. Contreras was just extremely emotional today with it likely being his final Cubs home game. https://t.co/8sIWTghrkx— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 26, 2022
So, let’s talk about this very well-played game.
Thompson retired the side in order in the first, then the Cubs offense got to work. Then Contreras came to bat and received ovation number one [VIDEO].
Willson’s single in that at-bat was followed by a double from Seiya Suzuki, with Contreras taking third.
It might have been more in the first, but Ke’Bryan Hayes made this nice grab on a Patrick Wisdom foul ball [VIDEO].
That was all the Cubs could muster for the next six innings, though. From the second through the seventh, the Cubs had just three hits and a walk and Hoerner reaching on a wild throw by Oneil Cruz, who has a rocket for an arm, he just doesn’t always know where the ball was going.
But Keegan Thompson was magnificent through six innings, allowing just three hits. In the seventh with one out, Hoerner booted a ball and if not for that, Thompson would have thrown seven scoreless frames. Unfortunately, that extended the seventh and Cruz smashed a two-run homer, bringing the Pirates within a run.
Thompson’s outing was nothing short of excellent, as I noted, no walks and seven strikeouts.
Rowan Wick, who’s been better lately — and I know I was calling for him to be sent down and am happy to see this — threw a 1-2-3 eighth.
Suzuki led off the bottom of the eighth with this monster home run [VIDEO], his eighth of the season.
As you can see in the video clip, it bounced off a standard on which sits a PA speaker and back into the bleachers, otherwise that one likely hits Waveland:
Suzuki, since returning from the IL, has been the kind of hitter the Cubs hoped they were getting. In 18 July games: .328/.366/.537 (22-for-67) with two doubles and four home runs, and only 12 strikeouts — the latter is really good news as his K rate had been pretty high before his finger injury at the end of May.
That insurance run gave Mychal Givens a breather. Yes, Givens, because there are rumors flying about David Robertson also being traded and it’s likely the Cubs didn’t want to take any chances with Robertson on the mound. Givens, who could be dealt himself by next week, has been a solid contributor recently and set the Pirates down 1-2-3, with this groundout to Alfonso Rivas at first nailing down the win [VIDEO].
The love for Contreras was palpable at the ballpark Tuesday afternoon. If in fact that is it for Willson in blue pinstripes, at least Cubs fans had a chance to say a fond farewell, which makes it sad that we didn’t have the same chance for Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant last year. As noted above, there’s no deal yet and I will have plenty to say — and so will Sara Sanchez — if a Contreras trade does come down before the deadline a week from today.
Fun Cubs/Pirates fact: This game completes Cubs vs. Pirates action at Wrigley Field for 2022 (the teams will meet once more in Pittsburgh). The Cubs won five of the nine games played between the two teams at Wrigley, but outscored them 52-19 with wins of 21-0, 9-0 and 7-0 included in the five.
One last thing: The 2:30 game time was the second-fastest nine-inning game for the Cubs this year (one minute longer than the 2:29 for that 9-0 game mentioned above). This game had the sort of pace you’ll see often next year with the pitch clock, and in fact, with that pitch clock a game like this might have been completed in 2:15 or less.
In the meantime, there’s more Cubs baseball to be played as the season continues. The Cubs will have Wednesday off and will begin a four-game series in San Francisco Thursday evening. Justin Steele will start the series opener against the Giants, and at this writing the Giants do not have a starter listed for that game. Game time Thursday is 8:45 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.