If you were at Wrigley Field yesterday, I’m sorry you waited 577 days for that hot mess. After a winter of retooling and a better-than-decent Cactus League showing, the Cubs were up to their same old tricks in yesterday’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates.
- The pitching staffed walked too many batters and allowed far too many baserunners.
- The offense had more sacrifice flies (three) than hits (two).
- Chicago allowed a mediocre Pittsburgh starter and a very pedestrian bullpen to look like the second coming of the 1966 Dodgers.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 1, 2021
If you are looking for a positive from yesterday’s game, it’s that the Cubs finally found a way to unlock the potential of 26-year-old Duane Underwood Jr. All he had to do was face Chicago’s hitters. The righty reliever shoved it up the backside of David Ross — and I mean shoved — by striking out Javy Báez, Jason Heyward, and David Bote in the 4th inning. The fact that Underwood and five of his bullpen brethren outpitched Kyle Hendricks and a gaggle of seven Cubs relievers might have been the story of the day.
Hendricks was uncharacteristically wild, locating just 38 of 63 pitches for strikes while walking three batters. Still, one game does not a season make and as much as it seemed a lot like what we’ve witnessed over and over since 2018, it’s too small a sample size to panic after one game. As my father would say, they simply scored more runs than us, that’s all.
While the Northsiders take their one-day sabbatical thanks to baseball’s mandatory day off after an opener, maybe their hitters will find their bats and perhaps the pitching staff will locate home plate. You won’t win very many games when you issue 11 walks and generate just two hits of your own. If the Cubs weren’t playing the Pirates, the score might have been far more lopsided.
Cubs News & Notes
- The big story yesterday was that 10,343 fans attended yesterday’s game. No matter the score, it was a big win for the fans and the organization.
- For those who got to enter Wrigley Field for the first time since October 2019, she sure was a sight for sore eyes. The Cubs were officially credited with a “sellout” despite the capacity limitations.
- Anthony Rizzo and Eric Sogard were the only Cubs players to get hits yesterday. They added four walks with 13 strikeouts and a nifty stolen base by Willson Contreras to set up one of their sacrifice flies.
- Of course, nearly all of social media overreacted after yesterday’s loss. Things are never as bad as they seem, though, at least not on Opening Day.
- The city was ready for the ballpark gathering and appears to have passed its first test. The hope is that no known outbreaks of COVID-19 will be traced back to yesterday’s game.
- Despite the new restrictions and frigid temperatures, most fans were happy to be back at Wrigley Field.
Odds & Sods
Cody Bellinger hit a home run with Justin Turner on base, but Turner thought it was caught for an out and ran back to first base.
Bellinger passed Turner on the bases and was ruled out.
The home run counted for one run instead of two. pic.twitter.com/ErecD0td3d
— ESPN (@espn) April 1, 2021
MLB News & Notes
A’s fans didn’t forget to remind Astros players that they cheated in 2019.
The Reds tried playing yesterday without a true shortstop, playing second baseman Mike Moustakas at third and moving Eugenio Suárez over to pair with rookie Jonathan India up the middle. That plan immediately backfired.
The Yankees and their fans aren’t very happy about the designated runner on second base rule to start extra innings. That rule change cost them a chance at a home victory against the Blue jays yesterday.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Eric Hosmer – The Padres first baseman had three hits, including a home run and a double, and three RBI in San Diego’s 8-7 win over the Diamondbacks. In case you were wondering, Yu Darvish struggled and was unable to escape the 5th inning after allowing four runs on eight hits.
- Zack Greinke – The veteran starter tossed six innings of shutout ball at the A’s yesterday, striking out four Oakland batters against three hits and no walks.
- Victor Caratini – The former Cubs backup catcher was 2-for-4 and also had three RBI in San Diego’s win.
Not all teams are required to take a one-day break, so if you need your baseball fix there are six games on today’s schedule. One of those is the makeup opener between the Red Sox and Orioles, which was postponed yesterday due to rain.
Is there anything more dramatic than Miguel Cabrera blasting a home run in the middle of a snowstorm on the frozen tundra of Comerica Park?
— ESPN (@espn) April 1, 2021
They Said It
- “That was incredible. I took an extra moment when I took the field to appreciate [the fans] being here and their cheers and being able to play in front of them. It was definitely something I’ll never forget – taking the field today.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “From Pitch one, I was battling myself. It was a fight.” – Kyle Hendricks
- “That’s the tough thing to watch. Twelve free passes, [counting] the hit batter. Gotta fill up the zone, especially [on a] cold day at Wrigley Field. The walks are going to hurt you.” – David Ross
Friday Walk-Up Song
In a Daydream by The Freddy Jones Band – Saturday’s game-time temperature is expected to be twice as warm as yesterday’s 32-degrees, and it might actually feel like summer at the corner of Clark and Addison. For me, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that this song is now 30 years old.