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Cubs play big and small ball in victory over Pirates

Though they showed they can create runs, the Cubs showed they still can beat teams with the long ball. Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward each hit a solo home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs
Jacob Stallings tags out Willson Contreras in the fifth inning Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Things couldn’t have gotten much worse offensively for the Cubs than they did on Opening Day, and on a picture-perfect afternoon Saturday at Wrigley Field, the offense made sure to back Jake Arrieta in a 5-1 win.

The Cubs aren’t usually expected to manufacture runs with the sluggers in their lineup, but manager David Ross wasn’t afraid to push the issue and get aggressive.

Javy Baez is known around MLB as a game-changer, and his skills were on display. After ripping a 109-mph single to lead off the second inning, Baez swiped second and third base before scoring on Jake Marisnick’s single. Marisnick then went first to third on a single by Anthony Rizzo and scored on a single by Jason Heyward for a 2-1 lead.

“Javy’s chaos, man. When he gets out there, he’s fun to watch,” Ross said. “He’s an exciting player and feeds off the crowd. They feed off him, we feed off him. He’s a spark plug when he gets going, man. He’s fun.”

But even while they showed they can create runs, the Cubs showed they still can beat teams with the long ball. Kris Bryant hit a solo homer in the third, and Heyward hit one in the sixth.

“I thought we had really good at-bats up into the lineup,” Ross said. “It was nice. Quality at-bats throughout. When you were talking about Javy, the home run from KB, [Rizzo] and nice baserunning by Marisnick. He got that runner in and went first to third. All the way down the line. [Heyward’s] home run was loud. ... I thought we did a really good job.”

“That’s kind of who we are, right there,” Bryant said. “Pitchers are out there throwing strikes, a lot less walks. Guys having better at-bats. I think we’ll see more of that as we kind of get into the flow of things with the season ramping up and getting back into our routines. Just going out there and competing.”

Alternate-site roster set

The Cubs announced their 27-man group that will train at their alternate site in South Bend, Indiana. Nico Hoerner, Shelby Miller, Cameron Maybin, Pedro Strop, Brad Wieck and Miguel Amaya are included. The minor-league season isn’t scheduled to begin until May.

He said it

“I think it’s a pretty strong statement that MLB’s making and why they’re making it: to support equal voting rights for everyone. I think I would definitely agree with that. It’s a pretty big step for Major League Baseball to move the All-Star game, so kudos to them. — Ross, on MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta