Szczur’s early home run sets tone for Chicago Cubs in 6-0 win
As always, it was a beautiful day for Chicago Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field and the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled into town for a three-game weekend set. Chicago received an early boost in the first inning and did not look back.
For those of you who missed the news, the Chicago Cubs called up top catching prospect Willson Contreras during their off day on Thursday. Despite the call-up, Contreras did not make a plate appearance but did come out to catch Justin Grimm in the home half of the ninth.
Chicago’s (45-20) 24-year-old slugger received a warm welcome from not only the fans in attendance but the home plate umpire and first Pirates’ (33-34) batter of the frame.
But while fans were anxiously waiting for him to make his big league debut, ace right-hander Jake Arrieta was brilliant on the mound for the home team.
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Arrieta (11-1, 1.74 ERA) pitched six fantastic innings of scoreless baseball, holding the visiting team to two hits, three walks, and recorded 11 strikeouts before skipper Joe Maddon called upon Trevor Cahill for relief.
Jake found himself in a bit of a jam in the sixth inning when he walked three batters to load the bases with only one out. Just when it looked like the Pirates were getting set to either take the lead or tie things up, Arrieta struck out David Freese and Matt Joyce to retire the side.
He received early run support in the very first inning of the ballgame thanks to Matt Szczur and a two-run homer off Francisco Liriano. Liriano (4-7, 5.03 ERA) was charged with four earned runs on six hits, one home run while issuing five walks, and striking out six Cubs before being pulled.
Chicago later scored three more runs in the sixth inning after Chris Coghlan led things off with his seventh double of the season. Coghlan entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Arrieta.
Next: Cubs call up prospect Contreras?
The Cubs struggled to push Coghlan across to score but finally got things going with two outs. Ben Zobrist singled to center field and came around to score on an RBI double off the bat of Albert Almora.
Shortstop Addison Russell worked a 13-pitch bases loaded walk which made it 5-0. Russell fouled off seven consecutive pitches until he was credited with an RBI. Almora tallied the final run of the contest with his second hit of the game in the seventh.
Tomorrow, Jon Lester will have the opportunity to claim the series for his club when he takes on Jon Niese under the lights.