The Cubs have won — and lost — so many close games recently that I had almost forgotten how a blowout felt.
Feels pretty good, as it turns out, and I imagine the Cubs are pretty happy with the overall effort after an 11-3 crushing of the Pirates at a soggy Wrigley Field Tuesday evening.
Chicago native Jack Suwinski began the scoring for the Pirates with a two-out homer in the top of the first off Jameson Taillon. The ball seemed a bit wind-aided from the 18 mile per hour breeze blowing out to right.
The Cubs wasted no time in getting that run back and more. Mike Tauchman led off the bottom of the first with a walk and Nico Hoerner dribbled an infield single off the wet grass.
One out later, Ian Happ gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead [VIDEO].
The Pirates chipped away at the lead, scoring a run off Taillon in the second and another on Suwinski’s second homer of the game in the top of the sixth. Suwinski has by far been the Pirates’ best player this year and might wind up with an All-Star nod. You might wonder why the product of Chicago’s Taft High School wasn’t noticed by the Cubs. Well... he wasn’t noticed by a lot of teams. He was the 15th-round pick of the Padres in 2016 and traded to the Pirates in the Adam Frazier deal in 2021. Good for Suwinski for becoming this good after being almost an afterthought in the draft.
Anyway, the game was thus tied 3-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth, helped in part by this double play that ended that inning [VIDEO].
The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Happ walked with one out and went to third on a single by Dansby Swanson.
The Cubs blew the game open in the seventh. Tucker Barnhart singled to lead off the inning. That in itself is newsworthy — it was Barnhart’s first multi-hit game in a month. One out later, Nico Hoerner walked and Seiya Suzuki had an infield hit to load the bases.
One out later, Yan Gomes, batting for Miles Mastrobuoni, made it 8-3 with this two-run hit [VIDEO].
Gomes was the eighth batter of the inning. Apart from Mike Tauchman flying to left for the first out, Gomes’ ball was the only one that got out of the infield.
The Cubs poured it on in the eighth, putting the game out of reach. Tauchman singled and was forced at second. Suzuki walked and then Christopher Morel launched a baseball onto Waveland [VIDEO].
While all that run scoring was going on, Julian Merryweather, Mark Leiter Jr. and just-recalled Anthony Kay were throwing three scoreless relief innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Taillon threw well enough, I suppose, getting a bare-bones quality start (six innings, three runs), a step in the right direction.
Now, a few words about the weather. While I’m glad the Cubs won this game, it never should have been played. The Cubs have done a pretty good job handling weather the last couple of years — not this time. It rained all day. The forecast for all-day rain was known on Monday. The game could have been called off early, no one would have had to show up at the ballpark, there was a suitable makeup date in September when the Pirates come to town again... I just don’t understand the Cubs’ reticence to call games when the weather is this bad. It rained off and on through the entire game, it was started in rain and moderate rain fell a couple of times during the contest.
This is especially true because of this:
David Ross said Ian Happ’s calf “grabbed on him,” was feeling a little tight when he came out of the game in t8. Said Happ didn’t seem too concerned, but they’ll see how he feels tomorrow.— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) June 14, 2023
Could this have been caused in part by the chilly, wet conditions under which this game was played? I’m just guessing, but I’m guessing yes.
Anyway, the weather conditions Wednesday should be a little bit more conducive to June than November, which is what Tuesday’s game felt like. The Cubs gained a game on the Pirates, of course, but also on the Brewers, who were walked off by the Twins Tuesday evening. This division is still winnable, but the Cubs, who now are 5½ games out of first place, are going to have to go on a run starting right now if they want to get back in the conversation. This win was a good start.
Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field, Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs. Originally, the Pirates had noted Rich Hill was going to start this game, but Pirates beat writer Justice delos Santos says that’s changing:
Osvaldo Bido will start tomorrow.— Justice delos Santos (@justdelossantos) June 14, 2023
Osvaldo Bido will be making his MLB debut. Game time Wednesday is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.