The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates met for the series finale, and no one could have predicted how it would have played out.
The Pirates got the early lead in the first inning, with Jose Quintana struggling, facing 8 batters, hitting two with pitches, and allowing two runs to score. 0-2 going to the bottom of the first.
The Cubs, played like the World Series champs they are, after that weird top of the 1st. Ian Happ brought in a run in the 1st, with an RBI single, getting the Cubs in perfect striking position. Javier Baez, being El Mago, stole home in 2nd, tying the game, 2-2.
Anthony Rizzo brought in Kris Bryant with an RBI double in the 3rd, followed by Happ absolutely crushing a two run homer, his 20th of the season, making the game 5-2 Cubs going to the 4th.
Catcher Rene Rivera, led off the 4th with a double, although that would be the only hit they got. Rivera, besides being a decent hitter, has been fun to watch behind the plate as well. His enthusiasm has been fun to watch with Willson Contreras still on the DL.
KB led off the 5th with a single, bringing up Rizzo, who was hit by a pitch. Two men on, no outs for Happ, who delivered with an RBI double. Happ just needs a triple for the cycle, which how he’s been doing tonight, seems entirely possible. 6-2 Cubs. Jason Heyward brought in Rizzo with a single. 7-2 Cubs, men on the corners, and no outs. Javy added to the score with a two run double, 9-2. Still no outs. Rivera had a sac fly to move Javy to third, with one out. Quintana also added to the score with an RBI single, changing the score to 10-2, with only one out. Jon Jay flew out, And Kyle Schwarber homered, his 23rd of the year, and adding two to the score. 12-2 bringing up KB, who flew out, ending the inning. 12-2 going to the 6th.
The Pirates got a run off of a Josh Bell solo home run in the 6th, and that was all they got. 12-3 going to the bottom of the 6th.
Rizzo led off the home half of the 6th with a solo homer, his 31st of the year. 13-3 with no outs. The next three batters were quickly retired, ending the inning. 13-3 going to the 7th.
Despite Quintana’s early struggles, he was good the rest of the night. He has been struggling in the first inning when he’s played lately. But once he gets to the 2nd, he’s good. If and when the Cubs make it to the post season, it will be interesting to see how/if Joe Maddon uses him. By the time he was replaced in the 7th, those two runs he allowed back in the first, and then the one in the 6th, was all the damage he allowed. A solid outing for Q, and he’ll get the W as well.
Rivera led off the bottom of the 7th with a single, and Schwarbs brought him in with a two run homer, his 24th. 15-3 going to the 8th.
Alex Avila replaced Rizzo at first, Albert Almora Jr came in to play center, and Tommy La Stella replaced KB at third in the 8th. Jon Jay moved to right.
Almora hit a single in the home half of the 8th, followed by Javy hitting a single, leaving two men on, one out for Rivera. He singled, loading the bases for La Stella, who brought in a run with a single. Two on, two out for Jay, who brought in Javy. 17-3 going to the 9th.
Ben Zobrist replaced Javy at shortstop in the 9th, and closer Felix Pena quickly ended the inning, and the Pirates attempts to get more runs, ending the game 17-3.
Cubs win. Cubs sweep!
Cubs remain in first place in the NL Central, and are at a season high 12 wins over .500. They’ll host the Atlanta Braves starting Thursday for a 4 game set. Then it’s off to Pittsburgh where they’ll face the Pirates for the final time this regular season.