Seiya Suzuki’s introduction to the major leagues is going far better than expected.
The 27-year-old from Japan will look to continue his torrid start when the Chicago Cubs open a four-game home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
Suzuki has reached base in all 12 games to start his career, setting a franchise record.
The five-time All-Star in Japan is making things look easy in the United States. The right fielder is batting .387 with four homers, two doubles, 11 RBIs and 13 walks. He has a .565 on-base percentage and an .839 slugging percentage.
“He’s the best player that I’ve ever played with, to be honest,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who is in his seventh season with the Cubs. “His plate discipline is insane. Everything that he does on the field, the way he takes care of himself on and off the field, is amazing.”
Suzuki went 0-for-2 with a walk on Wednesday in Chicago’s 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The game was called after 5 1/2 innings due to rain.
The loss was the second in a row for the Cubs, who have dropped four of their past six games.
Pittsburgh fell 4-2 on Wednesday as the host Milwaukee Brewers completed a three-game sweep.
The Pirates were outscored 15-5 in the series while managing just 17 hits. Their lone runs in the series finale came on a two-run, eighth-inning single by Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Pittsburgh hitters combined to strike out 13 times on Wednesday. Bryan Reynolds fanned three times while Ben Gamel and Josh VanMeter each struck out twice.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton preferred to tip his cap to the Milwaukee pitchers in the series.
“They pitched well, and we knew that coming in,” Shelton said. “You’ve got some front-line starters, and they threw the ball well and they played good defense and they hit some balls and found holes and we didn’t. Because of it, you’ve got to give them credit.
“But I mean, I know we lost three games, but we played pretty damn well in this series.”
Pirates right-hander Bryse Wilson (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will make his third start of the season on Thursday.
The 24-year-old didn’t make it through the fifth inning in either of his outings. He gave up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Wilson is 1-1 with a 7.30 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs. Jason Heyward is 2-for-6 with three RBIs against Wilson, and Contreras is 2-for-5.
Chicago will counter with right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. (0-1, 18.90), who was torched by the Colorado Rockies on Saturday in his first start of the season. Leiter gave up seven runs, five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Leiter, 31, is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four career appearances (one start) against the Pirates. The start came on July 4, 2017, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies and he took the loss while giving up two runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings.
After Wednesday’s game, the Cubs announced they had acquired left-hander Sean Newcomb from the Atlanta Braves for right-hander Jesse Chavez and cash considerations.
–Field Level Media