The Chicago Cubs will look for their third win in a row when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates to open a four-game series Thursday evening.
Chicago (59-75) has not won three games in a row since June 8-13, when the club won five consecutive contests. That was before the Cubs conducted a trade-deadline selloff that saw them part ways with star players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Craig Kimbrel.
The Cubs are 8-20 since the start of August, but they have won three of their past four games. They are coming off back-to-back victories over the Minnesota Twins, including a 3-0 decision Wednesday that included a combined two-hitter by pitchers Justin Steele and Adbert Alzolay.
Frank Schwindel hit a three-run homer for Chicago to account for all of the scoring. It was his third straight game with a home run, and it gave him seven homers in 28 games since joining the Cubs off of waivers from the Oakland Athletics on July 18.
Schwindel, 29, arrived in Chicago with minimal big-league experience — six games with the Kansas City Royals in 2019 and eight games with the A’s this year.
“This is living the dream right now, so just got to keep it going,” Schwindel said during a recent interview with the Kansas City Star. “But it’s obviously a tough game. And it’s been a long road but I didn’t give up — just kept it going every year, trying to get better, and I found myself in this situation.”
The Pirates (48-85) hope to slow down Schwindel and his teammates behind right-hander Mitch Keller (4-10, 6.75 ERA), who is scheduled to start Thursday. He is looking to bounce back from a bumpy performance against the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 26, when he gave up seven runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Keller is 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs, going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts vs. Chicago this year.
Pittsburgh is coming off back-to-back losses against the Chicago White Sox. However, the Pirates have seen signs for optimism recently, including a strong effort from Cole Tucker on Wednesday in which he went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Tucker, 25, is hoping for a strong finish to the season as he aims for a spot on the 2022 roster. He hit leadoff and played right field on Wednesday.
“To have moments like that and to have the gratification pop up is really cool,” Tucker said. “And that’s what keeps you going and keeps you hungry and what we’re chasing every day.”
The Cubs will start right-hander Keegan Thompson (3-3, 3.09 ERA), who will make the fourth start and 30th appearance of his rookie campaign. Thompson, 26, is coming off a rough outing against the White Sox on Friday, when he gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits in two innings.
This will be Thompson’s first career start against Pittsburgh. He has faced the Pirates twice out of the bullpen, going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 4 2/3 innings.
The Thursday contest begins a 10-game homestand for the Cubs, who are 33-32 at Wrigley Field this season. The Pirates are 20-47 on the road.
–Field Level Media