Castro, Castillo lead late rally in Addison Russell’s debut
To start the game the headlines were all about the MLB debut of Addison Russell for the Chicago Cubs’ – but it was shortstop Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo who would grab the headlines at the end of the game. Castro and Castillo both had some big hits but none bigger than the two they each had in the top of the ninth with the Cubs facing a two-run deficit.
Pirates closer Mark Melancon came into the game in the ninth with an 8-6 lead but quickly found him in a load of trouble. Anthony Rizzo singled to start the inning, Jorge Soler followed with a double, and then a walk to Kris Bryant would load up the bases for Castro who cashed in with a single to left field – scoring Rizzo and Soler – tying the game at 8-8. With one out Castillo tied up the game with a ground ball to second – scoring Bryant and giving the Cubs the 9-8 lead.
Hector Rondon comes into the game in the ninth to close the game and he did just that. He’d take the Pirates down in order – getting the save and the Cubs the come from behind 9-8 win and save his bullpen out from a complete meltdown.
Travis Wood was handed an early lead by the Cubs (8-5) with Kris Bryant hitting a deep fly ball for an RBI double off Pirates (6-8) starter Francisco Liriano (0-1, 2.08 ERA). The lead wouldn’t last long as Wood (1-1, 2.31 ERA) served up a leadoff homer to Josh Harrison to tie the game up at 1-1. Wood would do the same at the bottom of the second inning when Starling Marte took the south-paw deep putting the Pirates up 2-1.
Bryant would help out his pitcher and tied the game up in the top of the third when he reached on an infield ground ball that first baseman Corey Hart missed – scoring Dexter Fowler. Starlin Castro singled in Anthony Rizzo to snap the tie – giving the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
Castro wasn’t finished with his bat yet. In the top of the sixth the all-star shortstop connected on his second homer of the season – giving a much-needed insurance run for the Cubs. Castro finished the game going 3-for-5 and four RBI.
Both starting pitchers had similar stat lines when they exited the game in the sixth. Liriano was taken out to start the sixth for a pinch hitter – he finished his five innings of work giving up three runs on three hits while striking out nine and walking two.
Wood on the other hand, started out the sixth inning but walked his first batter. Manager Joe Maddon would call for the right-handed Brian Schlitter to take over. Wood exited the game after five innings – giving up three runs on four hits, while striking out five and walking two.
The bullpen imploded – losing the lead quickly as Schlitter gave up three runs in the sixth and Jason Motte also allowed three in the seventh.
Castillo did narrow the gap in the eighth with his second home run of the year – closing the gap that would allow the team to make their game wining comeback in the ninth.
Edwin Jackson came into the eighth and worked a spotless inning and picked up his first win of the young season.
As for the pregame headliner Addison Russell, he finished the game 0-for-5 with three strikeouts batting out of the ninth hole. He didn’t see a lot of action on the field but with what he did see he handled very well and played second smoothly.
What Stood Out:
Kris Bryant continues his hot hitting, tonight going 2-for-4 with two RBI, a run scored, and a walk. He is now batting .444 on the year but still looking for that elusive first home run.
Welington Castillo is making the most out of his limited opportunities – not only playing well behind the plate but also swinging a solid bat. He finished the game 2-for-5 and two RBI.
Hopefully, Russell will follow Bryant’s lead and bounce back nicely in his second game. The Chicago Cubs have plenty of bats so as long as he can play a solid second, I’m sure the team will be just fine.
What is Next:
Game three of the four game series tomorrow night will have the Chicago Cubs (8-5) giving Jason Hammel (1-0, 5.11 ERA) the ball and he’ll square off against the Pittsburgh Pirates (6-8) and Vance Worley (1-1, 5.84 ERA). Hammel coming off a no decision outing against Padres looks to have a better outing against what I’m sure will be an angry Pirates club who let tonight’s game slip away.
Worley victorious in his last start against the struggling Brewers – he surrendered only two runs off of six hits in six innings of work. He did allow four free passes – if he does that against this strong offensive Cubs club, he may not be as lucky this time around.
The game time is set for 6:05 CT tomorrow night.