Cubs’ Willson Contreras hits milestone grand slam, Wade Miley shuts down Pirates in win
The Cubs opened a three-game series against the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Monday.
Pirates right-hander Bryse Wilson should have learned from left-hander Dillon Peters’ mistake earlier in the first inning: Don’t throw the first pitch over the plate to Cubs leadoff hitter Willson Contreras.
Instead, Wilson’s curveball drifted into Contreras’ wheelhouse, and he blasted a grand slam halfway up the left-field bleachers for his 100th career homer.
‘‘Today is one of those days that made me think of my childhood, where I came from [in Venezuela], and it makes me proud,’’ Contreras said of the milestone.
The Cubs controlled the game from the start in a 9-0 victory Monday against the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Contreras’ slam was part of an eight-run first that saw the Cubs send 13 batters to the plate.
Contreras, serving as the designated hitter, started things off by sending Peters’ first pitch off the ivy in right-center field for a leadoff double.
After No. 2 hitter Seiya Suzuki moved Contreras to third with a grounder to second, the Cubs’ next three batters — Ian Happ, Frank Schwindel and Yan Gomes — sent base hits into left field. Peters then walked Jonathan Villar to load the bases, and the Pirates made a pitching change with two outs.
The switch, however, didn’t have the rally-squelching effect they intended. Andrelton Simmons, who was activated off the 10-day injured list Sunday, dribbled a swinging bunt up the third-base line for an RBI single.
No. 9 hitter Rafael Ortega then battled back from a 1-2 count to draw a bases-loaded walk, and the Cubs took a 4-0 lead with Contreras coming up for the second time in the inning.
His slam was only the 10th in the first inning by a leadoff hitter since 1901, according to MLB.com. And Contreras became only the third catcher to reach 100 homers with the Cubs, joining Gabby Hartnett (231) and Jody Davis (122).
Contreras said he plans to give the home-run ball to his dad, Wuiliam.
‘‘Because he knows how hard we worked together to get to the big leagues,’’ Contreras said. ‘‘And there were a lot of calls during the minor leagues, a lot of frustration, a lot of obstacles that were in my road. But he was a support. He and my mom were there all the time, and this is for them.’’
Contreras said he traded a few baseballs, a bat and a couple of photos to the fan who ended up with the grand-slam ball.
‘‘What has stood out to me is [hitting to] all fields for him,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Right-center and then left-center gap-to-gap is pretty indicative of how he’s swinging the bat right now. Power to all fields.’’
Veteran left-hander Wade Miley didn’t seem to be affected by all the downtime he had in the dugout when he took the mound in the second. In all, he retired the first 14 batters he faced, the longest no-hit stretch to start a game by any Cubs pitcher this season.
Monday was Miley’s second start with the Cubs, who picked him up off waivers from the Reds during the winter. He began the season on the IL with inflammation in his left elbow and made only one rehab start before the Cubs called on him to fortify their thin rotation last week in San Diego.
‘‘I was way more relaxed tonight,’’ Miley said, comparing his seven scoreless innings to his five-walk first start. ‘‘I was way more relaxed and just having fun, bouncing around. I think everybody’s better like that. You put a lot of pressure on yourself, and it’s hard to perform at a high level.’’
Miley allowed only one baserunner — on a single by Michael Chavis in the fifth. Between his dominance and the early lead, the Cubs cruised the rest of the way.