Jason Heyward’s hot hitting helps Cubs tie franchise record
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Good contact leads to good luck.
That was the primary takeaway from Jason Heyward’s double in the first inning of the Cubs’ 2-0 victory Saturday. His opposite-field shot toward the gap in left-center should have been caught, but Pirates center fielder Starling Marte lost his footing on the wet grass as the ball sailed over his head and bounced to the wall.
‘‘Fortunately, something good happened,’’ a smiling Heyward said.
The hit opened the door for a two-run inning, with Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo driving in a run apiece. It also marked the Cubs’ 94th consecutive game with at least one extra-base hit, matching a franchise record.
The extra-base-hit streak started Aug. 28, 2017. If the Cubs get an extra-base hit in the series finale Sunday, they will break the record they set from May 5 to Aug. 15, 1995.
Manager Joe Maddon said a mechanical adjustment has led to more opposite-field drives from Heyward.
‘‘It’s a matter of letting the ball get more deeply into the zone, but it’s also a matter of how you use your hands to get to it,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘There’s less push and more snap in his swing right now, and I think that’s why you’re seeing those vicious line drives the other way. I just think his approach is outstanding right now.’’
First things first
Third baseman Kris Bryant went 510 career games without batting at the top of the order. On Saturday, he hit leadoff for the second time in as many games.
Bryant went 0-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch, an intentional walk and a run scored after going 3-for-4 in his leadoff debut Friday.
Could Bryant see more action atop the lineup?
‘‘I honestly don’t know,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I’m playing it by feel on this one.’’
Waiting on Yu
Right-hander Yu Darvish has thrown on a flat surface but has yet to pitch off a mound in his recovery from tendinitis in his right triceps.
The Cubs haven’t set a return date for Darvish, who went 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA before going on the disabled list May 23. He likely will have to go on a rehab assignment to the minor leagues when he is ready, Maddon said.
‘‘He’s still just in ‘play catch’ mode,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Everything is advancing — not quickly, but it’s advancing. I think by the end of next week we should have a pretty good idea where we’re at.’’
Maddon said reliever Carl Edwards Jr. is ‘‘trending well’’ as he recovers from inflammation in his right shoulder that sent him to the DL on May 30. He hasn’t played catch since the injury, though.
‘‘The strength level has really come back up, and [trainer PJ Mainville] is really pleased with his progress,’’ Maddon said.
Meanwhile, right-hander Eddie Butler is still not ready to come back from a strained right groin that sent him to the DL on
April 20. Butler went 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA in six relief appearances before he was sidelined.