Pirates looking to build on victory over Cubs at home

MLB Baseball

The Pittsburgh Pirates probably won’t mind the routine of a short night Saturday into a day game Sunday. Not after the way they won — and the fact that they won — to split the first two games of a series against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

It rained on the Pirates’ parade — actually it was just a drizzle, and it was just a standard celebratory handshake line — following their 8-2 win Saturday, but the relief was evident.

It ended a six-game losing streak dating to a win at Chicago on Opening Day, and Pittsburgh had the kind of offensive output that had been missing — one the Pirates hope will carry over and lead to a series win after dropping two of three at Chicago and getting swept at Cincinnati.

“It was great,” said Phillip Evans, whose solo homer was the Pirates’ only run Saturday that didn’t come in a seven-run second inning. “Lot of energy in the dugout. … Just having fun in there.”

The Cubs, meanwhile, have lost three of their past four games.

They have struggled on offense and, while they picked up eight hits Saturday, they could convert them into only two runs.

In the series finale Sunday, Chicago right-hander Trevor Williams (1-0, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to face Pirates righty JT Brubaker (0-0, 2.25 ERA).

Williams, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Cubs, will be facing his former club for the first time. He pitched for Pittsburgh from 2016-20, going 31-37 with a 4.43 ERA and wowing the baseball world with a spectacular second half in 2018, compiling a 1.29 ERA over his last 13 starts.

Williams hasn’t been able to replicate that kind of stretch since.

While there might be some feelings for him in his return to PNC Park, it’s doubtful Sunday’s game will match what he felt Monday when he made his Cubs debut, against Milwaukee.

Not only was Williams perfect through five innings — finishing by allowing two runs and two hits, two walks and six strikeouts in six innings to pick up the win in a 5-3 game — but his father, Richard, and two brothers were at Wrigley Field to watch.

Richard Williams grew up in Chicago and spent four seasons working as an usher at Wrigley.

“The consistency that he has shown showing up to games is something that I don’t take for granted — ever,” Trevor Williams said of his father. “I’m just really thankful that my brothers were able to come out as well and see this. Just knowing that I’ve always got a fan — at least one fan — in the stands when I’m pitching, is something I cherish.”

Brubaker also will be making his second start. He did not get a decision in Pittsburgh’s 5-3 loss at Cincinnati last Monday, giving up one run and three hits in four innings, with four walks and six strikeouts.

He also got his first major league hit, a single, in his first career at-bat. A rookie last year, Brubaker didn’t hit because of the designated hitter used during the COVID-19-shortened schedule.

Against the Cubs, Brubaker is 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA in three career appearances, two of them starts.

–Field Level Media

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