PITTSBURGH – Once he was acquired from the Rangers, a question was immediately raised by Cubs fans when looking at their new starting pitcher.
Could Cole Hamels return to the way he pitched just two years ago when he was an All-Star in Texas? It was a valid question for the lefty who came to Chicago with an ERA over 11 in the month of July.
For at least one night, he answered in the affirmative.
In his Cubs’ debut Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, Hamels overcame a rocky first inning to produce a solid five inning effort. He allowed just one unearned run in the first frame and then struck out nine batters compared to two walks in helping his new team to 9-2 a win over the Pirates.
The effort, which was aided by a four-run first inning by the Cubs’ offense, is Hamels’ first win since July 13th and gives the Cubs a good initial feeling on their acquisition of the 13-year veteran.
Only in the first inning to Hamels have any issues, which began on a throwing error by Addison Russell on a hit by Jordan Luplow. The next batter, Starlin Marte, reached on a single and after two strikeouts, Francisco Cervelli knocked in the Pirates’ only run of the game. After that, Hamels shut down the Pirates over his final four innings, never allowing a batter to reach second and collecting seven strikeouts in that time.
Meanwhile the Cubs had plenty of offense to give him right from the start of the game, and got many of them home with simple plays. The four-run first inning featured scores on a groundout, two errors, and an infield single by Kyle Schwarber. A pair of walks brought in two more runs in the second inning to make it 6-1 and an Anthony Rizzo groundout brought in another in sixth.
Willson Contreras homered in the 8th with a man to end the scoring, yet it was the catches he made behind the plate with his new pitcher that was the start on this night.