After what proved to be a disappointing loss on Opening Day, the Cubs rebounded in games two and three against the Pirates, taking the series with 5-1 and 4-3 wins.
- Thursday, April 1: Cubs 3, Pirates 5
- Saturday, April 3: Cubs 5, Pirates 1
- Sunday, April 4: Cubs 4, Pirates 3
Walks are Killers
The Cubs' pitching staff was plagued by walks on Opening Day, walking 11 Pirates batters en route to the loss. The free passes gave the Pirates too many chances to add runs. Fortunately for the Cubs, they hung around long enough to make Thursday's game a contest, as the Pirates had plenty of chances to extend their lead, but just couldn't take advantage.
Kyle Hendricks was also not at his best, only pitching three innings while allowing four hits, three runs (all earned), three walks, and recording four strikeouts. Hendricks should rebound, but the cold weather affected the Cubs' pitching staff in a negative way.
The Cubs manufactured a few runs, scoring all three team runs via sacrifice flies. That said, two hits is not enough offense to get a win, even against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Jake is Back!
Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. After Opening Day felt like winter in Chicago, Saturday saw Spring peak it's head out of the clouds, making for a picture perfect day. The Cubs sat Ian Happ in favor of Jake Marisnick on Saturday, but the rest of the defense behind Jake Arrieta looked the same.
Arrieta looked incredible on Saturday afternoon. Despite a bit of a rough first inning, Jake dialed in and pitched a gem in his return to Wrigley Field. Arrieta finished the day pitching six innings, allowing six hits, one run, one walk, and recording five strikeouts on his way to his first win after re-joining the Cubs this winter.
Aside from the excellent effort from the former Cy Young winner, the Cubs' bullpen pitched to perfection, literally. In three combined innings between Brandon Workman, Andrew Chafin, and Craig Kimbrel, respectively, the Cubs struck out seven batters and did not allow a single baserunner for the Pirates.
Kris Bryant and Javier Baez also provided some fireworks on Saturday. Baez ended the day with two singles, an RBI, a run scored, and two stolen bases, which both came in the second inning of Saturday's matinee.
Jake Marisnick's first Cubs RBI drove Javy in to tie the game. After the Cubs tied it, they never relinquished the lead. David Bote later gave the Cubs said lead with a sac-fly to bring home Marisnick.
KB enjoyed a 1-for-3 day with a walk, two runs scored, and this towering home run, which gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
Jason Heyward saw what Kris Bryant did on Saturday and followed it up with a rope of his own in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 4-1.
The Cubs tacked on their final run of the day thanks to a Javy Baez RBI single. The Cubs captured their first victory after Workman and Chafin each struck out two, and Craig Kimbrel struck out the side to end the game.
Davies Dazzles in Debut
Ah yes, alliteration is always satisfying. You know what else was satisfying? Zach Davies' debut.
Davies picked up where Jake Arrieta left off on Saturday. On Easter Sunday, Davies pitched 5.2 innings, giving up four hits, two runs, and three walks while striking out five. Although the stat line at the end of the day looks less than ideal, most of the damage done against Davies was in the sixth inning. He was sensational in the five innings prior to Colin Moran's home run, which effectively ended Davies' debut.
Aside from Davies, the Cubs received strong efforts from Kris Bryant once again, as well as Ian Happ in Sunday's win. The Cubs may have scored four runs, but had only three hits offensively.
KB had two of the aforementioned three hits Sunday. He finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, and an RBI on his lone single of the day. Bryant went opposite field, beating the shift, to give the Cubs their first lead of the day in the first inning. Joc Pederson followed that up by grounding out, allowing Anthony Rizzo to score from third base.
In addition to KB's resurgance at the plate, Ian Happ broke the ice, recording his first hit of the season via a home run blast to straight away center field.
An error by Pirates third baseman Phillip Evans allowed the Cubs to pick up their fourth run of the day. Javier Baez picked up the RBI, despite the error, and that was all the Cubs needed to get out with a victory.
The Pirates threatened late, but it ultimately didn't matter. The Pirates added a third run in the eighth. However, a timely double play helped the Cubs escape the jam, and Craig Kimbrel came in and pitched a perfect ninth yet again with two strikeouts to pick up his first save of the 2021 campaign.
The tweet may be from Saturday, but it fits for both days. Kimbrel pitched two perfect innings with five K's and a save over the weekend. If he is back to himself, the Cubs have a weapon at the back end of their bullpen.
What's On Tap Next?
The Cubs open their three-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night at Wrigley Field. As of today, the matchups and series start times are as follows:
- Monday, April 5, 6:40 PM CDT: Trevor Williams vs. Brett Anderson
- Tuesday, April 6, 6:40 PM CDT: Adbert Alzolay vs. Freddy Peralta
- Wednesday, April 7, 1:20 PM CDT: Kyle Hendricks vs. Brandon Woodruff
For postgame reactions and analysis, be sure to tune in to the Cubs On Tap podcast on all major platforms.