The Chicago Cubs seem to have found a new look at the top of the lineup that they might stick with in their road game Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates and beyond.
Third baseman Kris Bryant, in his first game off the injured list Tuesday in the series opener, slid to second in the lineup for the first time this season rather than his customary leadoff spot. That No. 1 slot has been claimed, at least for now, by outfielder Ian Happ.
Happ hit his fourth homer in three games and drove in the deciding run with a base hit in the 11th inning Tuesday as Chicago topped Pittsburgh 8-7. Bryant went 2-for-6 and scored a run.
“We’ll ride that for a little bit,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
In addition, shortstop Javy Baez batted cleanup for the first time and went 1-for-6 with an RBI double while scoring two runs.
The Pirates opened a nine-game homestand Tuesday. Beginning with that game, they are scheduled to play 18 of their final 28 games at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh seemed to have found a keeper, too. Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, a 2015 first-round draft pick and touted prospect brought up after the team made no moves at Monday’s trade deadline, started, hit an RBI double, a game-tying home run and scored the tying run in the 10th inning of his major league debut.
And Hayes’ calling card is his defense.
“I thought he was really good. Did a lot of good things,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Hayes. “He’s going to be a hell of a good player.”
The homer is what stuck with Hayes.
“Since Day 1, since I signed, I dreamed of hitting a home run (at PNC Park),” the 23-year-old said, adding that his double, which was his first career hit, helped take the edge off any nerves.
“Leading up to the game I had definitely had some nerves running, some anxiousness. But it’s the same game.”
The double came against Cubs star left-hander Jon Lester.
It seems likely Hayes has earned more starts.
In the middle game of the series Wednesday, Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 4.09 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Joe Musgrove (0-3, 6.75 ERA).
Originally, left-hander Derek Holland was set to start for Pittsburgh, but Shelton announced after Tuesday’s game that it would be Musgrove, who will need to be activated from the IL. Musgrove has been out since early August because of right triceps inflammation and right ankle discomfort.
Musgrove has 17 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings, but control has been an issue, as he has 11 walks.
Shelton said he and the Pirates are mulling whether Holland would move to the bullpen or have his start pushed back.
Musgrove is 3-2 with a 1.69 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs.
Hendricks is coming off a subpar outing. He gave up five runs on 10 hits in six innings Friday in a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati.
Hendricks is 5-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 17 career starts against Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media