Happy Home Opener -- Cubs 10, Pirates 0

The Chicago Cubs bested the Pittsburgh Pirates in what was a delightful showing from the bullpen during the home opener at Wrigley.

Ben Zobrist led off the game with a walk against Pirates starter Jameson Taillon but would not come around to score, with Kris Bryant lining out to short, Anthony Rizzo striking out swinging, and Javier Báez striking out looking.

Jon Lester started on the mound and got two strikeouts in a row from Adam Frazier and Starling Marte. Francisco Cervelli walked, but no damage was done, as Josh Bell grounded into a force out with Cervelli out at second base to end the inning.

The Cubs piled on in the second inning. Daniel Descalso reached on a throwing error by Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman with two outs, and Taillon then made the mistake of intentionally walking Jason Heyward to get to Lester. Lester responded with an RBI double to put the Cubs up 1-0. The inning would end with the Cubs ahead 6-0 after RBI singles from Zobrist, Rizzo, and Báez; as well as another error from Newman that allowed Rizzo to score with Kyle Schwarber at bat.

Lester appeared to be throwing tentatively at the top of the third and faced only one batter, Steven Brault (who had entered the game in relief of Taillon). Brault singled to right and Lester then left the game due to left hamstring tightness. Brad Brach took over pitching and got Marte to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and Cervelli to strike out looking.

With Brault now pitching for the Pirates, Descalso doubled to the left field corner, followed by a walk to Heyward. Brach bunted to load the bases, and Descalso scored as Zobrist grounded into a double play. Bryant then followed with a double to score Heyward and put the Cubs up 8-0. The inning ended with a strikeout from Rizzo.

Schwarber added two more runs for the cubs with a home run in the fourth inning, bringing the score to 10-0.

David Bote entered the game for the Cubs in the fifth, replacing Descalso, and Brandon Kintzler came in to pitch. Kintzler got Brault out looking, a lineout from Frazier, and then hit Marte with a pitch. The inning ended with a strikeout from Jacob Stallings, who entered in relief of Cervelli at catcher.

Stallings stayed in the game for the Pirates in the bottom of the fifth, and Jason Martin entered the game in place of Melky Cabrera in right field and Pablo Reyes moved from left to right field. Bote lined out, Zobrist walked, Bryant grounded into a force out, and Rizzo had another strikeout.

Kintzler worked a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth with groundouts from Bell, Jung-ho Kang, and Martin.

Francisco Liriano pitched for the Pirates in the sixth and Colin Moran replaced Kang at third base. Liriano also had a 1-2-3 inning, with a strikeout from Báez, a flyout to left from Schwarer, and another strikeout from Willson Contreras.

Randy Rosario took the mound in the seventh, Albert Almora Jr entered in center field, and Mark Zagunis came in to play right field. Rosario got a flyout from Reyes, a lineout to first from Moran, and a comebacker from Frazier that he easily flipped to first for the third out.

New Pirates pitcher Nick Burdi faced Bryant, Victor Caratini (who had replaced Rizzo in the top of the inning), and Báez in the eighth, all of whom struck outz.

Pedro Strop closed out the game for the Cubs and gave up a leadoff single to Martin. Pinch-hitter JB Shuck replaced Reyes and walked. Newman then struck out swinging, and Moran grounded into a double play to end the game.

What a relief to see the bullpen take over early and get through it! The Cubs won yet again on an offensive explosion during a great home opener. Aside from Lester's injury, of course, but hopefully that will be resolved before his next start.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

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  • The NL better hope the Cubs don’t figure out this pitching thing. The way our Offense is rolling will put a hurt on a lot of clubs. If we scratched out 2 more hits instead of going hitless over the last 4 innings, the Cubs wounld have been the first team in HISTORY with 10 runs and 10 hits in 5 of the first 10 games.

    Bummed about Lester. Hope it is very mild. Another point for the pro-DH camp in the NL.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    I think there is a National League rule that the Cubs can't have pitching, defense and offense working at the same time.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    Someone missed that memo in 2016.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    And 2015

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    In the 2016-2017 off-season the league passed a rule that specifically the Cubs couldn't have good pitching, defense, and offense since fans were "sick of the Cubs multi-generational dominance." Maddon, Epstein et al. agreed to it saying, "We look forward to the challenges that this new rule puts before us." Unnamed sources in the Cubs FO even went so far as to say they are "flattered" that the league would do this as it indicates the extreme respect they have for what the Cubs have accomplished.

    We've seen what the new challenge has led to the last 2 years including injuries to star players as well as high profile signings like Chatwood and Morrow appearing to not pan out. The Cubs did apply for a waiver when it came to Heyward and the league agreed to allow him to progress to "league average" wRC+ but no more than that.

    When viewed in this light the last couple of years make WAY more sense.

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    A great win today for the bullpen--and the Cubs too. Maybe we've shifted from the terrible to the good--every player has times during the season where that happens and it just happened to have everyone go through it at the same time. I don't think a lot about the 10 runs because of all the errors, but there was good hitting too.
    Now one note, and this is not a political statement, but I just read that this administration wants to overturn the Obama agreement with Cuban baseball and that means that Cuban ballplayers might not be able to play here. That's a big deal. I hope it doesn't happen, we all have read what their athletes have to do to leave Cuba and play here and we don't want that to happen again.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I haven't heard about that, so thanks for the heads-up, you know that's an issue I care about. I'll dig into it, bit my first impression is this (like you said, staying out of taking sides): a lot of what this administration does is bluster, but purposeful. It throws the masses into a tizzy, but is highly effective in international negotiations. I wouldn't doubt this is some sort of ploy with much more deeper issues happening behind the scenes. I'm on it.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I beg to differ with the "highly effective" statement. But that is probably as far into politics as we should go.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Being tired of politics is exactly why this president got elected.

    Hopefully this Cuban player situation can be resolved to everyone’s favor. They need to negotiate an end to the embargo.

  • The Cubs are now +1 in run scored/allowed differential, which sabermetrically would predict a current record of 5-5. It's nice at least to get on to the plus side of the ledger.

  • Beautiful day, beautiful W! As others have pointed out, this offense is clicking. Love the ending, with Javy just missing the dude at first, then basically getting another chance with the same play to turn the game-ending DP, with a nifty assist from Bote.

    Keep the W's coming. Thank you. May I have another?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    With all due respect to Jonathan, and many thanks for his dutiful responses to that question, I feel it's a bit stale. New season, new challenges and all. It's time to retire.

    I don't know what I'll do next, but I know what I'm going to do tonight, and my sincere apologies up front. Today was a big win, and I'm feeling frisky. The music world is filled with lyrics of various levels of appropriateness. I have (almost) always tried to keep in mind the crowd here and the audience that may be listening. I have shied away from lyrics that may not be suitable for this particular readership. But, dang it, this was a big win. I'm throwing caution to the wind and going for it:

    "Baby Shark! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo!
    Baby Shark! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo!
    Baby Shark! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo! Doo!
    Baby Shark!"

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I'll just say...Rollin', Rollin', Rollin down the river of wins.
    That is one response. I'll have to work on it.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Baby Shark might be your best one yet!

  • Great win! Let's hope there's nothing lingering with Lester.

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    Lester headed for an MRI, will miss at least 1 start.

  • In reply to Ray:

    I guess that means Chatwood gets a start

  • After seeing Lester get injured running the bases I had a thought.
    I'm an N.L. guy. I think the DH takes a lot of the strategy out of the game. So I think the pitcher should bat, but I don't want to see pitchers getting injured running the bases.
    So I was thinking instead of a DH how about a designated runner. The pitcher has to bat but if he gets on base a runner comes in for him. You have to designate the runner before the game and that's all he can do. If you don't want a DR you don't have to use one. Also later in the game if you do a double switch the DR can come in in place of the pitcher in the batting order like a double switch.
    I think this will keep the strategy of when to pinch hit for the pitcher but reduce the chance of a pitcher getting hurt not pitching.
    Just an idea I had what do you guys think.

  • In reply to Wmp1990:

    I'm a die-hard NL guy, even to the point of calling the AL "that other league" that doesn't play real baseball. I like my baseball players to be able to play baseball, and have railed against Hall inclusion for DH-types like Edgar Martinez and the Big Hurt. Again, is it too much to ask that a baseball Hall-of-Famer be able to, say, play baseball?

    I do understand the argument, I just don't agree with the premise. I understand that MLB is trying to cultivate new fans, but I can see real alienation of loyal fans. I understand that ownership doesn't want to expose pitchers to an act they aren't accustomed and can lead to injury. I can understand the "quality of the game" argument that people who don't concentrate on hitting or baserunning shouldn't be hitting or baserunning.

    The most simple argument against such proposals is to take it to it's logical conclusion. If pitchers can't hit or run, and can be substituted with players who can, why not have Heyward play RF and Dan Vogelbach hit for him. And Donnie Dewees run. It would make the game more interesting for the younger fans. Why not scantily-clad cheerleaders and laser-light shows?

    I know that's taking it to an extreme. As much as I hate it, I realize the DH in the NL is inevitable. I just want to slow the roll on the other proposals, the ones designed to entice a younger fanbase, for fear it would alienate the existing one, myself included.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I am ok with scantily clad cheerleaders and laser shows. LOL!!!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Only on the Cubs new network, subscription required. Order now!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Only if Barley does the music... maybe even a new use for those foul poles...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    "She's got legs..."

    I'm very familiar with stripper music. I run sound.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Bring back Marla Collins!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Some pitchers were actually pretty fast runners too......the most recent one I remember with good wheels was Rich Hardin.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    And my hands-down favorite player of all time, Greg Maddux, would never even entertain the idea of playing in that "other league"...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I don't think the dh is inevitable in th NL. What is inevitable is the lost paying fans if the dh comes to the NL.

  • In reply to Wmp1990:

    Let the athletes play baseball. There is already too much specialization. Hate having a player that hits but doesn't play the field. Hope the NL never adds the DH.

  • Now for good Darvish to show up and follow suit tomorrow.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    No game tomorrow and it’s expected to rain Wednesday and Thursday. I’m very nervous about the rainouts the brewers don’t have this issue at all. Im not trying to take anything away from the brewers they earned what they accomplished last season but idc what anyone says they wouldn’t have caught the cubs if the cubs hadn’t played 41 games in 42 days not one ounce of doubt in my mind despite the fact the brewers were surging. They already have 7 off days in August and sept while the cubs only have 5 I have a bad feeling this schedule issue is going to be a recurring issue for the cubs.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    As long as Wrigley isn't a covered stadium, weather will be an issue, worse in some years than in others. As for last year, one more win would have clinched the division, so it's hard to argue that the 42-day stretch didn't have an impact. If I remember correctly, some rescheduled games were ALSO rained out, making the problem worse.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    This is my question cliff if anyone knows but did mlb at least add scheduled off days this season? I know wait til next year is gonna be mad at me for bringing up this topic again lol but teams should be at least on a somewhat level playing field. With the way the weather has been changing in recent years with winter going longer into March then ever and rain season starting later then ever this is gonna to be a big problem unless it’s addressed the mlb season just starts too early these days April climate factors are different then they were 10 years ago

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I honestly don't know, but my initial impression of starting the season with 3 series on the road was that MLB was trying to dictate the weather in the games, and maybe making up for the horrendous start to 2018.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    April climate factors are DIFFERENT than they were 10 years ago?
    Are you high?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I'm trying to figure out the math, but please excuse my complete incompetence and overall dullery. I was thinking of why the Phillies signed Harper to a 13-year deal when we only have 12 years left. I figure it has to do with AAV. Or worse.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Well, if the contract was backloaded with a very large payout in the 13th year...

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Bad way to phrase it on it on my end but Winter weather has been kicking in later in recent years the month of December was warmer than typical years and now we’re still gonna see a number of games in the low 30s and a lot of rain over the course of this homestead it appears. Relax buddy I’ve always been respectful towards you no reason for your choice of words

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Bad way of phrasing it???? Yeaaaaaaaa, ok well....we have one thing we are in agreement on. I was AMAZED to see what you wrote concerning the difference in weather over the last 10 years and how it caused the Cubs to fall short last year........It didn’t and I’ll explain why later....
    First of all, I apologize to you for firing off. You are one of the better posters and contributors to this blog. You are very analytic and bring some good well thought out additions to all ranges of topics brought up.
    My first initial comment back to you was.......well, lol......not published. Somebody saw it lol....cuz they made reference to a 13 year contract that by some peoples opinion.....not possible in this day and age going forward. I’ll leave it at that.
    I am NOT politically correct nor will ever be and let emotion get the better of me. I hate all forms of racism (yes, hate is a terrible word) and I’m not much for tolerance. Tolerance assumes “acceptance”.....but all tolerance breeds is mediocrity. This is why kids get trophies nowadays for just showing up.
    This is my safe place to come to everyday to get away from the crazyness that has become prevalent, that has always been what baseball is to me.....John was right to insist politics stay out of here.
    Last year the Cubs caught a bad break weather wise, we know that.....but it didn’t affect how Cleveland and Minnesota finished, or LA and Colorado, or New York and Boston. They don’t have cozy domes either. If bad weather is the reasoning for team’s performances then why doesn’t Toronto and Milwaukee win it all every year? They should right?
    Basically MLB plays 15 games everyday now. Back in the day that number was only 8 then it went to 10. With the domes in play now and with the schedule you have roughly 12 outdoor games contested on average per day. If someone would be willing to take the time and trouble to chart the amount of rainouts since 1994 I doubt you see any significant change or increase.
    Again, I’m sorry for goin’ off on you.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    It's all good Wickdipper I've had a lot of good baseball talks with you that's why I was surprised didn't know how to react. Honestly I'm always open to ideas outside of my own I see what you're saying how postponed games weren't as much of a factor in other parts of America even with the other teams without retractable roofs. I know last year the midwest got hit hard and the AL central and NL central teams got hit hard in particular. I think you make a plausible argument for why what happened last year may not be a recurring issue this season I hope you're right but my point was last years postponements definitely factored into the race. What happened in the AL central was irrellevant because most of those teams were rebuilding and Cleveland was by far the best team in a horrible division. The NL central was hotly contested and given the fact that we finished tied while losing a lot of games over the 2nd half of that 41 games in 42 days stretch I do think it's fair to say the brewers wouldn't have caught the cubs if not for the difference in off days.

    That isn't to say the brewers weren't deserving they were peaking down the stretch while the cubs were playing their worst baseball and maybe they deserved to lose. But I do think it's an issue that MLB needs to keep an eye on it appears there's a lot of rain and cold weather in the upcoming forecast again so I'm concerned but I hope you're right and the postponed games become less of an issue.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    MLB did add 4 more off days last year. Not sure what more they can do except go to a shorter schedule. Not sure they would want to take the revenue hit on that move.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Thanks for the info 2016 I think you told me that last season too. Hopefully it works out better this time but I think no way MLB goes to a shorter season you know how these owners are.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    kkhiavi, I did not mean to repeat myself. I agree I don't think the owners would want a shorter season either. I also don't think the players would want a pay cut.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Let's hope Darvish pitches well. He's proven in the past he's capable.

  • I'm happy for the Win, but I'm still wondering what's going on with our pitching. I hope Lester's hammy isn't bad. Theo said the 1-7 start was on him. What did he mean by that? Maybe he should've kicked the tires on Kimbrel, or Kueschel. Then this past Winter Theo says there's no money. Aren't they building a Hotel, and Fan experience across the street? Or is Alderman Tunny still trying to stab the Ricketts. I also blame PECOTA. That Algorithm jinxed us. Seasons aren't won or lost in April, but they better start doing everything better. Field, hit, pitch, run, play. They Cubs Way. I've been a Fan for 56 years. We don't have Pro MLB team in Oregon. We have Soccer Beer, and Legal Weed! Go Cubs Go!

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    If all we had was soccer, we'd want legal weed, too!

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    Someone mentioned Dan Vogelbach earlier. Right now he's got 4 Hr and 8 RBI with an OPS of 1.979. Personally I don't think that is sustainable.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    No is the Seattle start but good for him !

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    As much as I have always rooted for Dan VogelBOOM, I will always remember that the guy we got for him (Monty) got the final out in the 2016 World Series.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    We have no place for Dan right now. The NL has to have the DH for the Cubs to have a place for him. Go Dan!

  • In reply to John57:

    After another homer yesterday, Vogelbomb now has five homers, two doubles, six walks, five Ks, and a 2.096 OPS in 17 ABs. :-) I’m glad that he’s making the most of his opportunities to play even though he’s still sharing time with guys the Mariners are hoping to flip at the deadline.

  • Lester to the 10 day dL nooooo

  • In reply to bolla:

    I just hope it’s not a 4-6 week hammy strain. The team really doesn’t need to lose lester with Montgomery hurt. So much for the days of chatwood starting being over lol

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Yup the walkwood roller coaster ride is back open for business sighs

  • In reply to bolla:

    The 10-day stint makes perfect sense to me, he was going to miss a start out of pure precaution anyway. The injury is what it is, we don't know and won't know for a week or so. He could be fine and this is purely precautionary or he could be sidelinded a month or more. The 10-day stint doesn't make me any more or less worried.

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