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May 9, 2024 3:17 pm

Cubs hoping to shake hitting funk in Pittsburgh

ian happ cubs

The Chicago Cubs will look to bounce back from a tough offensive showing when they open a three-game series against the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.

The Cubs mustered just one hit — Yan Gomes’ comebacker in the third inning — and struck out 15 times in a 3-0 setback to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon.

Naturally, Chicago’s offense — or lack thereof — was the primary topic of conversation following the team’s seventh loss in the last 12 games. The Cubs are averaging 2.8 runs during that stretch.

“We’ve done a good job of scoring what we need to but haven’t put up a bunch of big numbers,” outfielder Ian Happ said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “So, the pitching staff’s been great. They’ve been holding us together, and (the offense) will come around. We’re going to make some noise like we did earlier in the year, and that’s just a matter of time.”

Happ hopes so, as he is batting just .225 while shortstop Dansby Swanson is hitting .209 to start the season. Swanson sat out Wednesday’s game due a nagging right knee injury.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell isn’t getting too worked up about his offense, which is batting .233 as a team.

“This is a baseball season,” Counsell said. “You’re going to face some guys that are pretty good. We faced a guy that was pretty good (on Wednesday in Dylan Cease). That’s part of what a season entails.”

They’re expected to face a promising rookie on Friday when Pittsburgh’s Jared Jones (2-3, 2.63 ERA) takes the mound against fellow right-hander Jameson Taillon (3-0, 1.13).

Jones, 22, allowed one hit and struck out 10 batters in seven innings in a no-decision against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. He relies on an overpowering fastball that can reach triple digits as well as a slider and changeup.

“I’m just going out there and doing me,” Jones said. “I’m sure I’ve had some spurts in my career where I’ve pitched just like this.”

Jones has yet to face the Cubs in his young career.

Pittsburgh, which is just 6-16 in its last 22 games, will try its luck against a familiar face in Taillon.

Taillon was selected by the Pirates with the second overall pick of the 2010 MLB draft. He is 1-1 with a 6.35 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.

Taillon scattered two hits over six scoreless innings in a 6-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

Oneil Cruz recorded a bases-clearing double among his two hits in the Pirates’ 5-4 setback to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. He is 7-for-22 with two homers, seven RBIs and three runs during six games this month.

“He’s a talented kid and I think we’re seeing that over the last five, six, seven days,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

Connor Joe added an RBI single to cap a four-run fifth inning for Pittsburgh. He is 6-for-18 with an RBI and two runs in his last five games.

–Field Level Media

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