Led by Sergio Alcantara, the Cubs bats were red-hot in their 9-0 dominant win over the Pirates on Thursday night at PNC Park. Eight of the starting nine in the Cubs’ lineup collected hits, and six of them drove in at least one run.
Things went bad immediately for Pirates’ starter Miguel Yajure, who lasted just two innings. His first pitch of the game was hit over the Clemente Wall by Rafael Ortega. Alcantara lined a three-run homer to right as part of Chicago’s six-run second inning. Willson Contreras and Matt Duffy each picked up RBIs in the inning for the Cubs.
The best way to begin a game, in our opinion. pic.twitter.com/KFFdVI1s67
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 30, 2021
In his two innings, Yajure gave up seven runs on seven hits (two home runs) and two walks. He also picked up a strikeout. Though he appeared in relief last week, this was Yajure’s first start with the Pirates since he went five scoreless innings against the Giants on May 14. His velocity was down again, with his fastball sitting in the 90-91 range and he was leaving pitches center-cut the Cubs’ batters took advantage of.
Tanner Anderson, who had his contract selected from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier on Thursday, pitched in relief of Yajure and cruised through his first two innings before getting hit around in the fifth. The Cubs scored a a pair of runs on four hits in the inning. Alcantara and David Bote each drove in a run with RBI singles. Anderson gave the Pirates some much-needed depth out of the Bucs’ bullpen, going five innings.
The Pirates couldn’t do much of anything all night as Cubs, starter Justin Steele went seven scoreless innings for Chicago. He allowed just four hits and fanned seven Pirates batters.
It was the Pirates’ 100th loss of the season.
The Cubs outhit the Pirates 13-6 in this one, and 23-11 over the last two games.
The Pirates begin their final series of the 2021 season against the Reds on Friday. Wil Crowe (4-8, 5.77 ERA) will square off with Luis Castillo (8-16, 4.08 ERA).
Stat of the Game:
- Yajure has now surrendered six home runs in 15 innings (3.6 HR/9) at the Major League level in 2021. Obviously a small sample, but it’s very unlike Yajure throughout his minor league career. Yajure had a decent-not-great HR/9 of 1.3 in the minor leagues this year, and for his minor league career has a home run rate of just 0.5 HR/9. Yajure missed a good chunk of the season thanks to a forearm strain, which also could be behind the decreased velocity, but the right-hander will look to limit the long ball heading into next season.
- Reynolds Heating Up: With his fourth-inning single, Reynolds extended his hitting streak to four games. In those four games, Reynolds is batting .538 (7 for 13) with two doubles, two triples, a pair of runs scored and an RBI. He also now has at least one hit in six out of his last seven ball games. Reynolds is heating up again to end the season after a slump earlier in the month of September.
- .300/.900 Update: Speaking of Reynolds, he is currently trying to become the first Pirate since Andrew McCutchen in 2104 to end a season with a .300 batting average and a .900 OPS in the same season. After Thursday’s 1 for 3 performance, he is currently sitting at a .298 average and a .902 OPS.
- Welcome back, Anderson: Anderson’s appearance was his first back with the Pirates since his first go-around with Pittsburgh in 2018. Anderson was originally a 20th-round selection by the Pirates in 2015 out of Harvard University. After a couple years with the Oakland A’s, Anderson came back to the Pirates’ organization this summer. He played a big part on Thursday, saving the bullpen by going five innings. He gave up two runs on five hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out one.