Chicago is 8-2 in its past 10 games, including a three-game sweep of the Pirates last week at home and Monday's 8-0 win in the opener of a three-game set in Pittsburgh
One catalyst of Chicago's recent success has been outfielder Mike Tauchman, who was 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs out of the leadoff spot on Monday. He is 10-for-25 (.400) with a homer and seven RBIs over his last seven games.
"Putting him at the top (of the lineup), really our offense has started going," Chicago manager David Ross said.
The Pirates, conversely, have lost seven in a row and are struggling to score
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton, after a loss at Milwaukee on Sunday, challenged his club to find a way to make things click on offense. The response was less than compelling, as the Pirates were held to five hits in the series-opening loss to the Cubs
Pittsburgh has scored 17 runs during its seven-game losing streak, with six runs in the past four games.
"We have to be better," Shelton said. "We have to figure out a way to be better."
One potential spark is Henry Davis, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 draft who was summoned from Triple-A Indianapolis before Monday's game. Offense is his main calling card, and he doubled in his first big-league at-bat and went 1-for-3 with a walk in the series opener.
Davis projects as a catcher, but the Pirates still have Austin Hedges and Jason Delay behind the plate. In his short stint in Triple-A (10 games), Davis got some action in right field, which is where he started Monday
"Primarily, he's going to play right field, and he'll DH some," Shelton told AT&T Sportsnet. "That's not to say that he wouldn't get behind the plate, but (Hedges and Delay) are both here and will get the bulk of the playing time (there)."
On Tuesday, Chicago right-hander Marcus Stroman (8-4, 2.45 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Johan Oviedo (3-6, 4.40).
Both starters faced off against each other on Thursday, when the Cubs won 7-2
Oviedo struck out eight but gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss in that meeting, while Stroman allowed two runs on four hits in six innings and got the win.
That was Stroman's first career win against the Pirates in six appearances (five starts). He is 1-3 with a 3.41 ERA against Pittsburgh
It was also Stroman's sixth consecutive win. He has a 1.51 ERA during that stretch, which spans 41 2/3 innings.
Stroman sensed that Chicago, with the sweep of the Pirates, was catching fire
"I think we've got a little momentum going right now," Stroman said. "Things finally kind of turned in our favor."
Oviedo, on the other hand, has lost his past three decisions. He is 1-3 with a 4.38 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) against the Cubs
--Field Level Media