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Friday, September 22, 2023

Chicago Cubs snap five-game losing streak behind Alexander Canario’s grand slam in 14-1 win over Pittsburgh Pirates – Boston Herald

Somehow, the Chicago Cubs had to find a way to reverse the alarming trend over the last 10 days during their slide down the wild-card standings.

Manager David Ross thought the offense just needed something to turn their fortunes.

“It really feels like we haven’t gotten that big double in the gap or the three-run homer,” Ross said Tuesday before the series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It feels like things aren’t going our way and someone will make it turn, one player step up and get a big knock in a big situation and guys will take a deep breath and we’ll get back on this roll that we’ve been on for a pretty good while now before that last road trip.”

Dansby Swanson set the tone two batters into the bottom of the first inning Tuesday. He slugged an 0-2 elevated fastball into the center field basket for a two-run home run, one of four the Cubs hit in their 14-1 blowout win at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs (79-72) ended their five-game losing streak that had tied their season-high by jumping on a Pirates pitching staff they have feasted on this year. They have recorded five 10-plus run games against the Pirates, the first time the Cubs have accomplished the feat since 2019, also versus Pittsburgh. An eight-run eighth inning allowed Ross to empty the bench and let 12 different batters record a plate appearance in the frame.

“We’ve been scrapping for runs and pressing with guys in scoring position or runners on third less than three outs and just haven’t done what we need to do, and getting everybody a little bit of a positive boost being back home, the environment here is always good,” Ross said afterward.

Alexander Canario’s first major-league start turned into an unforgettable night for the 23-year-old. Slotted into the No. 9 spot as the designated hitter, Canario recorded his first big-league hit on an RBI double in the sixth inning to extend the Cubs’ lead, 6-1.

He one-upped the moment in his next at-bat, sending a two-strike slider to left-center field for a grand slam and his first MLB home run in the eighth inning to blow the game open. Starting pitcher Javier Assad, who allowed one run in five innings, heard teammates Christopher Morel and Miguel Amaya predict Canario’s homer before the at-bat.

“It’s surreal, I really have no words,” Canario said through an interpreter. “Just to think back in January I was in a (medical) boot and I was on a scooter to move around and now I hit a grand slam in the big leagues. It’s just a surreal moment.”

Coming into Tuesday, Canario had recorded just one at-bat — a pinch-hit opportunity Sept. 6 — since the Cubs called him up Sept. 1 as part of expanded rosters.

“It was difficult, I will admit it and I’ll also admit that I did want to play being up here, but I was just waiting for the opportunity and kept myself mentally calm and mentally ready, doing my routines,” Canario said. “… I knew the team was going to eventually give me my opportunity.”

Canario became the second Cub since 2000 (Taylor Davis, May 4, 2019) to hit a grand slam for his first big-league home run.

“It’s part of working your way up as a young guy,” Ross said. “You’ve got to prove yourself or wait your turn sometimes. It happens to everybody, only the greats ever get to come in and really establish himself and play right away. His future is bright ahead of him.”

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