PITTSBURGH — Addison Russell showed his surprisingly mature approach at the plate in back-to-back innings during the Cubs’ late-inning comeback against the Milwaukee Brewers last week. On a career night Monday in Pittsburgh, he just showed off.
On Tuesday, the Cubs’ youngest every-day starter drove the ball to the top of the wall in the opposite-field gap for a double — the only hit to reach the outfield against Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. Russell then scored the only run Cole allowed in seven innings.
“That’s kind of been my approach the whole year,” Russell said of his method, which often incorporates a cut-down swing that manager Joe Maddon calls a “B hack.” “I’m really not looking for a specific pitch, just something that I can handle.”
His double on a 96 mph fastball was his seventh hit in nine at-bats, a streak that included the first four-hit game of his career Monday.
When he reached out to slap a 3-2 pitch to right field for a run-scoring single last Wednesday, Maddon called it “the essence of the ‘B hack’ right there.”
Russell followed the next inning with a game-winning home run, jumping on a 2-0 pitch with more of the Grade A hack he showed during his 21-homer All-Star season last year.
“I’m not trying to do too much,” he said. “Just put the ball in play and see where it goes. It’s working out.”
Because of Tuesday’s rainout in Boston, the Cubs will miss Cy Young winner Rick Porcello in their series with the Red Sox this weekend. They’ll face Drew Pomeranz in Friday’s opener.
Subject to change
Maddon said he’s leaning toward the obvious designated hitter choice of Kyle Schwarber in Boston but will stay open-minded throughout the series.
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