One pitch, one loud noise, welcome to the 2018 championship season. Ian Happ decided to send that special first pitch of the season baseball into the right field stands to set the tone today. The Cubs’ bats were in midseason form as they cranked out three dingers en route to an 8-4 opening day victory. Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber supplied the rest of the power in this one as both launched solo shots.
Jon Lester didn’t have it, period. It looked like the velocity wasn’t there, and he found himself nibbling the zone way too often, looking a lot like Jon Lester circa 2017. I wouldn’t read too much into it, Lester typically starts slow and as Maddon said after the game the little extra finish on Lester’s pitches just wasn’t there today.
Aside from the power surge the strong work of the bullpen grabbed the rest of the headlines. Newcomer Steve Cishek was tremendous as he was forced into early duty when Lester couldn’t get out of the 4th (my Dad shakes his head in disgust). Cishek worked and inning and two-thirds giving up one hit while walking one, and striking out two. The bullpen combined to go five and two-third scoreless innings while giving up just one hit.
Good start. Welcome back, baseball.
There was a buzz all day around Wrigley, the renovations on display, the excitement of a team favored by many to win a World Series, celebrating an NLCS appearance from last year, there was no possible way the Cubs could match that buzz right? Wrong. For the majority of the night it seemed like the Cubs were destined to fall flat, in fact they were getting no-hit deep into the seventh inning before a David Ross single gave them some life. Brandon Finnegan kept the Cubs off balance all night but ran out of gas after 7 and 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball; it was a brilliant performance, but ultimately a no decision. After the David Ross single in the 7th, Matt Szczur followed with a walk, and two batters later Jayson Heyward had his first big moment in a Cubs uniform. Tony Cingrani left an 0-2 fastball out over the plate and Heyward laced it into right for a two-run single and the once flat Cubs seemed to have grabbed all the momentum heading to the 8th.
Ben Zobrist walked with one out in the 8th, and Jorge Soler was then hit by a pitch to set the stage for the youngest player of the group, Addison Russell. Russell wasted no time as he launched the first pitch he saw deep into the night to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead, and that’s how this one would end. A season that has exceeded even the highest of expectations so far just added another chapter. Lost in the late game heroics was the work of Jon Lester, he clearly didn’t have it last night, but was able to keep the Cubs within three through six innings as he picked up another quality start. No baseball today as we all recover from what was a long day of excitement yesterday; the Cubs are 6-1.
The Cubs flashed some power last night to go along with yet another solid performance from one of their starters. This time it was Jon Lester benefiting from three Cubs dingers as he breezed through the Angels lineup en route to picking up his first win of the season. Dexter Fowler, Matt Szczur, and Anthony Rizzo all found the seats as the Cubs torched the Angels 6-1 to move their record to 2-0 for the first time since 1995.
Full Box Score
It’s only May 6th, feeling okay? This series has been a roller coaster of emotions, and tonight we can all breathe a little easier as the Cubs just barely hung on to beat the Cardinals 6-5. Both teams scored in alternating innings until the eighth when they both pushed across a run. Jon Lester didn’t do himself any favors as he made an error which led to an unearned run, which was not the only unearned run of the night. The Cardinals got two more after a two out error by Addison Russell, but Lester battled all night. The newest ace of the Cubs was able to work through seven strong innings before watching the bullpen shut the door, I wouldn’t say they slammed it, they shut it quietly. Nice to be out from under that losing streak, and the Cubs can now go for the split tomorrow afternoon.
At the Plate:
- Chris Coghlan was plugged into the two hole tonight, he did his job by getting on base, he didn’t have any hits but he walked twice.
- Anthony Rizzo is hunting down the MVP, he was 2-for-4 with his fifth dinger of the year, three RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Kris Bryant continues to produce, he was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored.
- Jorge Soler seems to be coming out of his slump, he was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
- Dexter Fowler, Starlin Castro, David Ross, and Addison Russell all chipped in with a hit.
On the Mound:
- Jon Lester was gritty tonight, he worked seven innings, giving up four runs, one earned, on seven hits while walking two, and striking out six.
- Pedro Strop had another shaky outing, he worked one inning, giving up one run on one hit while walking one.
- Hector Rondon walked the tightrope as well, he worked a scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the year. He surrendered one hit while walking one, and getting one huge strikeout.
First pitch: 7:15 PM CST
Television: CSN Chicago
Radio: WBBM Newsradio 780
Weather: Sunny, 81 degrees
1. Fowler – CF
2. Coghlan – LF
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Bryant – 3B
5. Soler – RF
6. Castro – SS
7. Ross – C
8. Lester – SP
9. Russell – 2B
Despite losing Adam Wainwright for the season, the Cardinals are off to their best start in basically forever. They are 18-6 on the season, and sit at the top of the NL Central with a 4.5 game lead on the second place Cubs. The Cardinals have won six straight games, and are 11-2 at home, which means they are bound to lose some games! The Cubs come into this series limping on the offensive side of things, not a whole lot is going right at the plate. Despite recent struggles, the Cubs are off to a pretty solid start of their own, and this series is probably the first “big” one of the year as the Cubs would love to split, and hold steady in second place.
- Monday, May 4, 2015 – 7:10 PM CST – CSN Chicago / ESPN
- Tuesday, May 5, 2015 – 7:15 PM CST – WGN TV / MLB Network
- Wednesday, May 6, 2015 – 7:15 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Thursday, May 7, 2015 – 12:45 PM CST – CSN Chicago
Who is Hot:
- Cardinals: Of course Matt Carpenter is taking it to another level this year, he’s been fantastic. Over his last seven games he’s hitting .360 (9-for-25) with four doubles, a triple, a dinger, five RBI’s, and five walks. Go away.
- Cubs: After a slow start to the year, Miguel Montero is turning it on. Miggy is hitting .467 (7-for-15) over his last four starts with an RBI, and a walk. Would like to see some extra base hits, but he’s squaring it up.
Who is Not:
- Cardinals: Well, it’s only a matter of time before Yadier Molina starts coming up with big hits, it’s usually against the Cubs. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, the aging backstop is struggling, he’s hitting .111 (3-for-27) in his last seven with only two strikeouts, the BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is getting him.
- Cubs: It was probably a matter of time before Kris Bryant cooled down, he wasn’t going to hit .400 this year contrary to many reports from fans. Bryant is hitting .190 (4-for-21) over his last six with four walks, and ten strikeouts.
This series worries me, only because the Brewers have been bad all year, and they are bound to start playing some better baseball. It’s a new test for the Cubs as good teams are immune, usually, from playing down to their competition. Based on how these teams have played so far you would think that the Cubs would have an easy go of it, that’s why they play the games of course. The Cubs are coming into this series winners in six of their last ten, and just two games behind the Cardinals for first place in the Central. Conversely the Brewers have won just three times in their last ten, and are already ten games back of first in the Central.
- Friday, May 1, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – CSN Chicago / MLB Network
- Saturday, May 2, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Sunday, May 3, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – WGN TV
Who is Hot:
- Brewers: Apparently Adam Lind is making the most of his regular playing time in Milwaukee. The slugging first baseman is hitting .444 (12-for-27) in his last seven games with two doubles, three dingers, and six RBI’s.
- Cubs: It really doesn’t seem like Dexter Fowler has struggled at all this year because of his ability to get on base, but now he is red hot. Fowler is hitting .450 (9-for-20) over his last five games with one double, two RBI’s, and a walk.
Who is Not:
- Brewers: The Brewers have been bitten by the injury bug so they are having to rely on players they normally wouldn’t, one of those guys is Logan Schafer. Schafer is really struggling as he is hitting .200 (4-for-20) over his last seven games with one walk, and six strikeouts.
- Cubs: It seems as though teams have found Jorge Soler‘s swing and miss, it’s the weather. Of course I’m not blaming the weather on his struggles, but he is cold, literally. Over his last six games, Soler is hitting .091 (2-for-22) with twelve strikeouts.