Rookie Alexander Canario held his bat in the air for a moment on his follow-through, watching the fly ball tower over Wrigley Field.
He had just blasted a grand slam for his second major-league hit.
Canario logged a lot of firsts in the Cubs’ 14-1 victory against the Pirates on Tuesday: first time in the starting lineup, first hits, first RBI, first home run.
Third baseman Nick Madrigal’s strained right hamstring set off a chain reaction, resulting in a new-look lineup against Pirates left-handed starter Bailey Falter.
Canario served as the designated hitter. Christopher Morel, who has mostly been the DH this season, started at third base for the first time since July 5. Patrick Wisdom slid over to first base, and Cody Bellinger started in center field.
“He hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats,” manager David Ross said of Canario, who had one major-league pinch-hit at-bat before Tuesday, “but fits into the role that matches up today.”
Whether it was the new lineup, the day off Monday or facing the Pirates back home, the Cubs’ offense came alive.
The Cubs scored early. With home runs from Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki, an RBI double from Wisdom and a sacrifice fly from Nico Hoerner, the Cubs took a 5-1 lead in the first three innings.
Canario got his first major-league hit in the sixth inning, an RBI double.
Then he broke open the game with his eighth-inning grand slam. Bellinger tacked on later in the inning with a three-run homer. And Jared Young hit an RBI triple.
Madrigal to IL
The imaging done on Madrigal’s right hamstring showed more damage than the Cubs were expecting, Ross said.
The team, originally hopeful that Madrigal would be able to avoid the injured list, put the third baseman on the 10-day IL, retroactive to Sunday. In a corresponding move, the Cubs recalled Young.
“I’m not ruling out, hopefully, postseason stuff,” Ross said, “and he’ll still be working and trying to get back.”
Madrigal had his right hamstring surgically repaired in 2021. This is the second time this season that he has reinjured it. He left the Cubs’ 13-inning game against the Diamondbacks on Saturday in the 10th when the hamstring tightened up.
The Cubs used the day off to reorder their rotation.
Right-hander Javier Assad started Tuesday, with Justin Steele and Kyle Hendricks set to pitch Wednesday and Thursday.
“Lining up our best pitching for the rest of the season and then postseason,” Ross said.
The Cubs plan to push right-hander Jameson Taillon back to start Friday, the Sun-Times has learned
The Cubs could use their day off next week to adjust their rotation order again. But as it stands, Steele is lined up to pitch the last game of the regular season, which could be crucial.
This and that
- Assad held the Pirates to one run and five hits in five innings. The only run he allowed was Ke’Bryan Hayes’ solo homer in the third inning.
- Hoerner extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games, tied for the longest streak by a Cub this season.
- Closer Adbert Alzolay (strained right forearm) was scheduled to progress to long toss on Tuesday.
- The Pirates-Cubs game started after a 1-hour, 30-minute rain delay.