Thompson keeps Cubs roll of great starting pitching going in 7-0 win
Don't look now but the Cubs' starting rotation seems to be rounding into form.
Kyle Hendricks allowed 1 run in his last two starts; Justin Steele mowed down 10 Diamondbacks on Sunday; and Wade Miley gave up just 1 hit in 7 innings to the Pirates on Monday.
Keegan Thompson (3-0) kept the train rolling Tuesday by scattering 4 hits in 5 innings during a 7-0 victory over Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field.
"I think you just try to go out there and build off what they did," Thompson said. "You're just trying to go out there, do your best and give the team the best chance to win."
Thompson may not stay in the rotation long, however, because Marcus Stroman should be able to come off the injured list and start soon.
Manager David Ross also loves what Thompson brings in the long relief role.
"There's real value in bringing that guy back every three or four days rather than five," Ross said. "A lot of the reasons we've been ... (able to) ease guys into the mix has been because Keegan's had a lot of success. The bonus is you're going to need depth ... and he's definitely starter depth, but he's also really valuable in the role he's been fulfilling for us."
Thompson made his second start after 7 relief appearances and lowered his ERA to 1.41. He ran into trouble in the fourth when Daniel Vogelbach hit his first career triple in his 1,218th plate appearance. The inning ended when right fielder Seiya Suzuki threw out a tagging Vogelbach at the plate. The benches -- and bullpens -- cleared after a clumsy scene at home plate with Vogelbach and Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. Things got testy when Vogelbach tossed Contreras' catcher's mask after Contreras checked to see if the Pirates' DH was OK.
"He kind of surprised me, to be honest," Contreras said. "Voggy and I played together for a lot of years in the minors. Suzuki made a great throw, I put the tag on him and I was just basically checking on him. He overreacts. ...
"At the end of the day that doesn't matter. We won the ballgame."
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Jonathan Villar's home run to left-center and broke the game open with a 5-run fourth. Pittsburgh fielders misplayed three balls during the frame, although the Pirates were only charged with 1 error.
After Contreras reached on an error by shortstop Rodolfo Castro, Ian Happ lifted a towering pop-up to third. Pittsburgh's Michael Chavis failed to make the play, however, and Happ was safe with a single.
Suzuki then roped a 2-run double to left, Alfonso Rivas walked and Frank Schwindel doubled down the left-field line to make it 4-0. Villar made it 5-0 when first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo fumbled a grounder, and Ildemaro Vargas made it 6-0 by reaching on a fielder's choice.
The Cubs are 6-2 in their last eight games to improve to 15-20.
The Pirates (15-21) have been outscored 40-4 in their last four games at Wrigley Field.
Around the horn:
The Cubs placed OF Jason Heyward on the injured list with no designation, which means he is dealing with COVID. ... Marcus Stroman (COVID) threw a bullpen session Tuesday. Manager David Ross hopes the righty can rejoin the starting rotation soon. ... LHP Conner Menez was optioned to Iowa.