Injuries are stacking up for the Chicago Cubs, but the team keeps winning. The Cubs are utilizing a formula that is working lately for all teams going against the Pittsburgh Pirates: hit the ball over the fence.
Chicago opened a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Tuesday with a 4-3 win backed by two home runs by Joc Pederson.
The Pirates have given up 17 homers over their past five games, and they have dropped the past four.
“The way it’s been going for us lately, when we don’t execute pitches, they’re getting hit out of the ballpark,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.
The Cubs don’t have to go deep to prevail, Chicago right-hander Jake Arrieta noted Tuesday after starting and winning.
“We’ve got a lot of ways to beat teams,” he said.
Chicago is 14-7 in May, and 14 of those games have been decided by one run.
Lately, the success in close games can be attributed to the Cubs’ bullpen, which has not given up an earned run over its past 29 2/3 innings spanning the past nine games.
Injuries could be a concern, however. Jake Marisnick, Jason Heyward and Justin Steele are on the injured list because of hamstring injuries and are “progressing well,” according to manager David Ross, while Alec Mills (back) is on a rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa.
They were joined Tuesday by infielder Matt Duffy, who went on the IL because of a lower back strain. In addition, catcher Willson Contreras, who is dealing with a bruised wrist, was rested in the series opener.
Then, during the game Tuesday, Chicago second baseman Nico Hoerner left in the sixth inning because of a left hamstring strain.
On Wednesday, Chicago right-hander Trevor Williams (2-2, 5.97 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (0-2, 4.91).
Williams has not had a decision over his past four starts. On Thursday against the Washington Nationals, he gave up two runs, on a pair of first-inning homers, and five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Perhaps surprisingly in that game, Williams didn’t push back on being pulled one out away from a potential win with his team ahead.
“Yeah, it was the time of the ballgame that called for that,” Williams said. “I understand it. And in the end, it ended up helping us win a game. It’s a win for everybody.”
Williams, who spent the past five years with the Pirates, will be making his third start against them this year (0-1, 8.59 ERA).
The Wednesday game will feature a rematch of starters from May 8, a 3-2 Chicago win. Neither Williams (two runs in four innings) nor Crowe (two runs in six innings) got a decision.
Crowe, who has gotten opportunities this season because of injuries to other Pirates pitchers, is coming off a start in Atlanta on Thursday, when he gave up four runs in five-plus innings in what ended up being a 6-4 Pittsburgh win.
Crowe is 0-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two career games, one of them a start, against the Cubs. His relief appearance came April 3 in his Pirates debut, when he gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning.
–Field Level Media