Seiya Suzuki’s 2 homers lift Cubs to 2-1 win over Pirates

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
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PITTSBURGH – Seiya Suzuki homered twice, Drew Smyly pitched five scoreless innings and the Chicago Cubs beat Pittsburgh 2-1 on Tuesday, spoiling the Pirates’ home opener.

Suzuki connected for leadoff shots in the fifth and seventh. One of the top players in Japan, Suzuki signed an $85 million, five-year contract with the Cubs last month.

“I’m just trying to stay aggressive and trying to make the pitcher throw more pitches,” Suzuki said through a translator. “Obviously I’m getting lucky, and I just want to continue to contribute like this.”

Smyly (1-0) permitted three hits and walked none in his Cubs debut. The left-hander agreed to a one-year contract last month.

Smyly also signed a $10 million, two-year contract with the Cubs in December 2017, but he never pitched for Chicago. Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, he ran out of time to get into a big league game in 2018 and was traded to Texas that November.

Smyly chuckled when asked about finally making his Cubs debut.

“Everything works out for a reason, everyone has a different path,” Smyly said. “I’ve been very lucky in my career, and I feel very fortunate to be back here and pitching for the Cubs. It felt good to go out there, pitch well and help the team win a game.”

The Pirates got their only run on Bryan Reynolds‘ homer against Mychal Givens in the eighth.

David Robertson worked a perfect ninth for his second save.

Jose Quintana (0-1) made his first appearance for Pittsburgh, pitching five effective innings against one of his former teams. The veteran lefty joined the Pirates as a free agent in November after posting a 6.43 ERA in an injury-plagued 2021 season with the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco.

“All day long, I thought he threw the ball well,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “If he goes out in the rest of his starts and throws the ball like that, we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Suzuki drove a full-count pitch from Quintana deep to right-center in the fifth. He connected against Anthony Banda in the seventh for his third homer in his fourth major league game.

“There was not too much information on him,” Quintana said of Suzuki. “I tried to follow the plan, to throw the fastball close to him. I think when he hit the homer, the ball came back over the middle. He’s tough.”

Suzuki has reached base at least twice, scored a run and driven in a run in each game. The last Cubs player to start the season with a longer streak was Mark Grudzielanek with five in 2003.

“He’s really done a good job of controlling the strike zone,” Cubs acting manager Andy Green said. “He chased a little in spring training and he was probably trying to show some things. But since the season has started, he has really made the pitchers throw strikes.”

Smyly induced a career-high 11 groundball outs.

Ian Happ had two hits for Chicago. He is 7 for 10 in three games so far this season.


Cubs right-hander Keegan Thompson has appealed his three-game suspension for hitting Milwaukee’s Andrew McCutchen with a pitch Saturday. He remains eligible to play until the appeal process ends.

Ross served his one-game suspension for the incident. Green, who managed San Diego from 2016-19, ran the club in Ross’ absence.

“It’s out of my control. It’s part of the rules,” Ross said when asked if he thought the suspension was justified.


The Pirates and third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes finalized an eight-year, $70 million contract before the game. The deal runs through the 2029 season and includes a club option for 2030.

“To be a cornerstone player means a lot to me,” Hayes, 25, said.


Cubs: RHP Alec Mills (low back strain) threw 77 pitches Sunday in extended spring training. He was scheduled for a bullpen season Tuesday in Arizona. … LHP Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) played catch before the game.

Pirates: RHP Luis Oviedo (right ankle sprain) began an injury rehabilitation assignment at Low-A Bradenton on Sunday and pitched one scoreless inning.


Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 1.29 ERA) starts on Wednesday. He allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings against Milwaukee on opening day.

Pirates: RHP Zach Thompson (3-7, 3.24 ERA in 2021) makes his debut for Pittsburgh after being acquired from Miami in an offseason trade.

Olson blasts two HRs, Acuña has 4 hits as Strider, Braves overpower Phillies 11-4

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ATLANTA – Given a seven-run lead in the first inning, Atlanta right-hander Spencer Strider could relax and keep adding to his majors-leading strikeout total.

“That game felt like it was over pretty quick,” Strider said.

Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in three runs with four hits, including a two-run single in Atlanta’s seven-run first inning, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-4 on Sunday night to split the four-game series.

“Getting a lead first is big, especially when you get that big of a lead,” Strider said. “… When we’re putting up runs, my job isn’t to be perfect. My job is to get outs.”

Following the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced right-hander Michael Soroka will be recalled to make his first start since the 2020 season on Monday night at Oakland.

Matt Olson hit a pair of two-run homers for Atlanta, and Strider became the fastest pitcher in modern history to reach 100 strikeouts in a season.

“It’s incredible,” said Acuña through a translator of Strider. “Every time he goes out to pitch it seems like he’s going to strike everybody out.”

Acuña hit a run-scoring triple in the fifth before Olson’s second homer to center. Acuña had two singles in the first when the Braves sent 11 batters to the plate, collected seven hits and opened a 7-0 lead. Led by Acuña and Olson, who had three hits, the Braves set a season high with 20 hits.

Strider (5-2) struck out nine while pitching six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander fired a called third strike past Nick Castellanos for the first out of the fourth, giving him 100 strikeouts in 61 innings and topping Jacob deGrom‘s 61 2/3 innings in 2021 as the fastest to 100 in the modern era.

“It’s cool,” Strider said, adding “hopefully it’ll keep going.”

Olson followed Acuña’s leadoff single with a 464-foot homer to right-center. Austin Riley added another homer before Ozzie Albies and Acuña had two-run singles in the long first inning.

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner and left fielder Kyle Schwarber each committed an error on a grounder by Orlando Arcia, setting up two unearned runs in the inning.

Strider walked Kody Clemens to open the third. Brandon Marsh followed with a two-run homer for the Phillies’ first hit. Schwarber hit a two-run homer off Collin McHugh in the seventh.


Michael Harris II celebrated the one-year anniversary of his major league debut by robbing Schwarber of a homer with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the second. As Harris shook his head to say “No!” after coming down with the ball on the warning track, Strider pumped his fist in approval on the mound – after realizing Harris had the ball.

“He put me through an emotional roller coaster for a moment,” Strider said.


Soroka was scratched from his scheduled start at Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, setting the stage for his final step in his comeback from two torn Achilles tendons.

“To get back is really a feather in that kid’s cap,” Snitker said.

Soroka will be making his first start in the majors since Aug. 3, 2020, against the New York Mets when he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. Following a setback which required a follow-up surgery, he suffered another tear of the same Achilles tendon midway through the 2021 season.

Soroka suffered another complication in his comeback when a hamstring injury slowed his progress this spring.

Acuña said he was “super happy, super excited for him, super proud of him” and added “I’m just hoping for continued good health.”

Soroka looked like an emerging ace when he finished 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 2019 and placed second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the NL Cy Young voting.

The Braves are 0-3 in bullpen committee games as they attempt to overcome losing two key starters, Max Fried (strained left forearm) and Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) to the injured list in early May. Each is expected to miss at least two months.

RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who gave up one hit in two scoreless innings, was optioned to Gwinnett after the game to clear a roster spot for Soroka.


Phillies right-hander Dylan Covey (0-1), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 20, didn’t make it through the first inning. Covey allowed seven runs, five earned, and six hits, including the homers by Olson and Riley.


Phillies: 3B Alex Bohm was held out with hamstring tightness. … LHP José Alvarado (left elbow inflammation) threw the bullpen session originally scheduled for Saturday. Manager Rob Thomson said there was no report that Alvarado, who was placed on the injured list on May 10, had any difficulty.


Phillies: Following an off day, LHP Ranger Suárez (0-1, 9.82 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Kodai Senga (4-3, 3.94 ERA) in Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series in New York.

Braves: Soroka was 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in eight games with Triple-A Gwinnett. He allowed a combined four hits and two runs over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts. RHP Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28 ERA in 2022) is scheduled to make his 2023 debut for Oakland as he returns from a finger injury.