Opportunity is expanding for Mike Olt and Junior Lake — along with their confidence. After they hit consecutive home runs Wednesday night to vault the Cubs to a 7-5 victory over the Pirates, manager Rick Renteria is ready to increase their roles. Renteria said he plans to steer away slightly from his initial plan of employing a platoon system at certain positions and pencil in right-handed batters Olt and Lake to face hard-throwing right-hander Gerrit Cole in Thursday's series finale. "(Thursday) is as good a day as any," Renteria said after Olt snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run homer and Lake hit the next pitch off left-hander Wandy Rodriguez over the left-field bleachers. Olt capped a career-high three-RBI performance with a run-scoring opposite-field single off right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez during a three-run sixth that loomed large when the Pirates closed the gap with four solo home runs off starter Jason Hammel and Pedro Strop in the final three innings. "I'm confident in them," Renteria said. "What we're trying to build is the confidence they should have within themselves. That's the biggest thing. (Wednesday night), they faced a lefty, and as the game progressed, they faced a righty." Olt, 25, has compensated for the lack of full-time duty with diligent fielding practice as early as five hours before Wednesday's game as well as extra batting practice. The extra work in the cage paid off as he went to the opposite field in the sixth.
Mike Olt and Junior Lake homer in Cubs victory
Chicago Tribune | Apr 10