The Rundown: Lester Nails Braun, 500 Hits for Bryant, J-Hey Goes Yard, Baez is Good

The Cubs put a big hurting on the Brewers yesterday with an 8-0 win. Jon Lester pitched a great game and Jason Heyward had a home run to boot. Travis Shaw was ejected in the 6th inning but the news was worse for Milwaukee. While just getting in a little routine work in the 9th, Brewers closer Corey Knebel clutched his left hamstring as he fell to the ground after throwing a pitch to Tommy La Stella.

Knebel executed his pitch but immediately grabbed his leg and needed the help of the training staff to leave the field. Milwaukee placed him on the DL immediately.

First blood in the 19-game season series goes to the Cubs and this should be a matchup worth watching all year.

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs and Brewers may be baseball’s newest great rivalry.

Javier Baez scored from first on a single yesterday. Evan Altman wrote a great piece on Javy’s ability to change games yesterday.

After a mediocre effort by Lester on Opening Day (3.1 innings, seven hits and three earned runs), the veteran lefty looked much more ace-like in this one. In fact, Lester picked off Ryan Braun last night in hilarious fashion. Braun stole second in the 1st inning yesterday and got a bit too greedy. He tried to take third and Lester nailed him with the Pippen-to-Jordan bounce pass he had worked on earlier this spring.

Lester was purposely scheduled so he wouldn’t have to face the Brewers, who have run very successfully against him in the past. Joe Maddon had aligned the team’s rotation so they could start their right-handed pitchers against the right-hand-dominant Brewers, but Tuesday’s rainout in Cincinnati changed those plans.

Heyward came off the bench in the 9th inning to hit his first home run of the season in his only at-bat of the game in Thursday’s win over the Brewers. The Cubs right fielder has made the most hard contact in all of baseball so far this season.

Kris Bryant got his 500th career hit in the fourth inning of yesterday’s game.

Most of us still miss David Ross. Here’s a great story about Ross as told by Lester.

There is a cool book launch event in Wrigleyville this weekend and if you are free you should stop by. Becky Sarwate is hosting “Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team” at Murphy’s Bleachers. Playtime with Bill Turck & Kerri Kendall on 1590 WCGO will be broadcasting live during the party, and Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities will also be in attendance, featuring former Cubs’ players Bill Campbell, Rich Nye, and Gene Hiser.

How About That!

In snowy Guaranteed Rate Field, the Tigers upended the White Sox 9-7 in 10 innings in Chicago’s home opener. It was nice to see and hear Hawk Harrelson calling the game. I know a lot of people rip on Hawk, but baseball will miss his voice.

Adrián Beltré got his 3,054th career hit yesterday and passed Rod Carew for most hits by a Latin-born player in MLB history. He should end the season with the 20th most hits all-time in baseball. Alex Rodriguez holds that position with 3,115 hits. With his second hit in the game, Beltré tied former teammate Ricky Henderson for 24th place.

New Phillies starter Jake Arrieta is scheduled to make his 2018 season debut on Sunday when the club wraps up its series against the Marlins. Arrieta made it pretty clear he wouldn’t be in favor of a quick hook, something manager Gabe Kapler has become known for already this season. “So it just depends on how the game unfolds and how things progress,” said Arrieta, “but if I’m rolling I intend to be out there for quite a while.”

Mets prospect and college football analyst Tim Tebow hit a home run in his first AA at-bat.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Adrián Beltré – Naturally.
  2. Robbie Ray – The Diamondbacks pitcher allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine in Arizona’s 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.
  3. Niko Goodrum – The guy with best name in baseball came up big with a two-run homer in the 9th inning of the Tigers-White Sox game that brought Detroit to within one run.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • The Braves are off to a great start, but its probably a little premature to call them contenders. However, last week I did pick Atlanta to be one of the wild card teams this season, though I based that on the large number of weak teams in the National League.
  • The Phillies, currently 1-4, had their home opener on Thursday, in which fans showed that they are already frustrated with Kapler’s management. According to Fanrag Sports, “There are signs that some — even team members — are having their early doubts.”
  • Phillies OF Nick Williams blames “the computers” for his lack of playing time. Gigglesnort.

They Said It

  • “I think a lot of that, you’ve got to use the eye test. If a guy is rolling then you may extend him a little bit longer and if you have high-stress innings, one or multiple, then you kind of reevaluate and go from there. But I think you’ve got to watch the game and see how it unfolds and if you’re cruising then you would obviously like to continue to stay out there.” – Jake Arrieta
  • “I guess the computers are making (the lineup), I don’t know. I don’t get any of it but what can I do? I’m not going to complain about it because I have zero power. I’m just letting it ride.”  – Nick Williams
  • “I knew one thing for certain, at some point this year we were going to lose three out of five games. When it happens early like this, everything stands out. If a guy goes 1-for-10, it stands out even further. It’s just what happens. There’s nothing you can do to really combat it. I don’t want to combat it.” – Joe Maddon

Friday Walk Up Song

It’s a Long Way to the Top (if You Want Rock & Roll) by AC/DC. What a great song to end the week with. And hey, bagpipes!

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