Welcome back, fellow Cubs fans! The season began with a bang for the, as Ian Happ hit a long bomb on the very first pitch of the 2018 campaign. Our own Evan Altman predicted he would homer on the third pitch of the game, but I’m certain he is okay with being wrong just this once.
Jon Lester pitched well enough, but the Marlins were able to get a lot of hard contact against him. Some shaky outfield defense by Kyle Schwarber didn’t help matters, and indirectly led to a couple Marlins runs in the 3rd inning. Lester lasted only 3.1 innings, throwing 71 pitches.
The Cubs were able to take advantage of opportunities and score some runs later in the game so the bullpen had a comfortable lead to work with. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
The Cubs offense came to play today. In addition to the Happ, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber hit solo home runs today. Jason Heyward reached base three times, scored once, and drove in a run. He looked really good at the plate and didn’t try to squeeze his chest with his elbows like he did last year. He also did not ground out to the right side of the infield.
Addison Russell also reached base three times and scored a run. The only starters who did not get a hit were Lester and Javy Baez, who reached base twice by drawing a walk and being hit by a pitch.
The bullpen was key to securing the win. Steve Cishek made his Cubs debut and looked excellent, walking one and allowing a double while striking out two over 1.2 innings of work. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson, and Mike Montgomery each pitched scoreless innings.
Tommy La Stella hit a two-out, two-run double in the top of the 7th inning to extend the Cubs’ lead to four runs. It was at that point when we knew the Cubs were going to win.
Stats that (Finally) Matter
- Seven of the Cubs’ nine hits were either doubles (4) or home runs (3).
- Lester walked three men in his outing. If he’s going to be able to consistently make it deep into ballgames, he’ll have to limit those in future contests.
- The Cubs went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. This game could have easily been a blowout.
Baseball is finally back and the Cubs started their 2018 campaign off with a nice win.
When the Cubs win on Opening Day pic.twitter.com/VjbEXh72kB
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) March 29, 2018
Kyle Hendricks squares off against Caleb Smith, who played college ball at the university I currently attend (Sam Houston State), when these two teams meet again on Friday. The game will be broadcast on WGN with first pitch set for 6:10pm CT.