Cubs’ Willson Contreras hits milestone grand slam, Wade Miley shuts down Pirates in win

Pirates pitcher Bryse Wilson should have learned from fellow staff member Dillon Peters’ mistake earlier in the inning. Don’t throw the first pitch over the plate to 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 home run.

In a 0-9 win against the Pirates on Monday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs had control of the game from the start. Contreras’ grand slam was part of an eight-run first inning that sent 13 batters to the plate.

Contreras, serving as the designated hitter on Monday, started things off by sending Peters’ first pitch off the right-center field ivy for a lead off double.

“It could be a different mindset, but I don’t think about that,” Contreras said before the game of batting leadoff. “I don’t think about that. I think it’s going to be a really important at-bat from pitch one, and then I’m trying to get on base or make contact. If I make contact, it’s fine. If I get on base, it’s even better.”

Cubs two-hole hitter Seiya Suzuki moved Contreras to third base with a ground out to second. Then, the Cubs’ next three batters – Ian Happ, Frank Schwindel and Yan Gomes sent base hits into left field. Peters 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 Pittsburgh must have intended. Cubs shortstop Andrelton Simmons, activated off the 10-day injured list (right shoulder inflammation) the day before, dribbled a swinging bunt up the third-base line for an RBI single.

Cubs nine-hole hitter Rafael Ortega 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.

Contreras’ grand slam was just the 10th first-inning grand slam by a leadoff hitter since 1901, according to mlb.com. And Contreras became the third Cubs catcher to reach 100 home runs with the franchise, joining Gabby Hartnett (231) and Jody Davis (122).

“Super happy with where he’s at right now,” Cubs manager David Ross said of Contreras over the weekend. “Feel like he’s in a good place physically, mentally. I think he’s doing a really nice job of handling the DH when he’s not catching.”

Suzuki and Happ also singled after Contreras’ grand slam, bringing the Cubs’ first-inning hit total to eight.

Cubs starter Wade Miley didn’t seem to be affected by all the down time he’d had in the dugout after a quick first frame when he climbed the bump again the next inning. In all, he retired the first 14 batters he faced.

Monday marked Miley’s second start as a Cub, after the club picked up the veteran lefty off waivers from the Reds this winter. He began the season on the IL with left elbow inflammation and had just one rehab start before the Cubs called on him to fortify their thin rotation in San Diego last week.

“I just got quick. I was a little too amped up,” he said after walking five Padres batters in three innings last Tuesday. “When the pressure went up, I went with it rather than staying calm and just making pitches. I let myself get frustrated, get angry. I’m not a good angry pitcher. I’ve got to find a way to have fun out there.”

Miley seemed to have found his cool on Monday, as he threw seven shutout innings, allowing just one base runner.

Between Miley’s performance and the Cubs’ early lead, the home team cruised the rest of the way to a win.

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