I can’t deny that I was a bit worried about the Cubs coming home and playing in the different elements that Chicago weather usually brings, especially in April. I should have known better. If this team has taught us anything so far is that they won’t give up. Let’s take a look at the first home series v. the Reds:
Reds @ Cubs
Cubs 5, Reds 3
W: Warren (1-0) L: Cingrani (0-1) SV: Rondon (2)
There is a different feeling with this team. One that evokes confidence and peace. I don’t know about you but I’ve never felt anything quite like this with any other Cubs team.
Even though the Home Opener didn’t start out with a bang, it sure ended with one. Reds’ starter Brandon Finnegan held the Cubs hitless over 6 2/3 innings. I wasn’t too worried because I knew that this lineup was not going to be silenced the whole game, and that Finnegan wouldn’t finish the game because of his high pitch count. Sure enough the Cubs rallied with one out in the eighth against Tony Cingrani. Ben Zobrist walked and Cingrani hit Jorge Soler with a pitch before being pulled in favor of Jumbo Diaz. The hero of the night, Addison Russell launched the first pitch into the left-field bleachers for his first home run of the season. Wrigley Field went NUTS! Even Russell, who usually has a very calm demeanor, showed emotion and even pimped his home run a bit. As you all saw, this team has a party room; complete with a disco ball and fog machine in its home clubhouse, which they immediately found reason to use on Monday night. The atmosphere at Wrigley Field was electric. The player introductions reminded us of the stacked lineup that this team brings, and it also brought some of us to tears as we were reminded of what Kyle Schwarber did last year. The Cubs played a short video of Schwarber’s highlights from last season, and he was the last Cubs player introduced. Schwarber was received with a standing ovation when he joined his teammates on the field. Another nice surprise was Anthony Rizzo using Starlin Castro’s walk-up song, “Ando en la Versace” by Omega, in his first at-bat. Overall, it was a great home opener, one of the best I’ve attended.
Cubs 9, Reds 2
W: Lackey (2-0) L: Simon (0-1)
John Lackey pitched quite well and the results were much better than his last start at Wrigley Field, which was on Oct. 13 in Game 4 of the NLDS as a member of the Cardinals. In that game he served up four runs over three innings and took the loss. In this game, he allowed two runs on six hits, struck out seven and walked three in 6 2/3 innings in his first start at Wrigley Field. He did still have some control issues in the first inning which sparked my curiosity. I decided to look at his career stats and it does show that throughout his career he has struggled in the first inning, especially with pitches 1-30. This may be something I look in more detail later on. Reds’ starter Alfredo Simon didn’t have the same luck. Bryan Price pulled him in the first inning as Simon recorded only two outs in the shortest start of his career. Simon allowed five runs and four hits, struck out one and walked three. Price would have to go to his bullpen five times during the course of the game. The Reds issued 10 walks in a 9-2 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday night. Lackey also contributed at the plate, hitting an RBI single in what was a Cubs five-run first. Kris Bryant also added to the offense as he delivered his first homer of the season in the fourth against Keyvius Sampson.
Cubs 8, Reds 1
W: Hammel (1-0) L: Iglesias (1-1)
The National League ROY got to Reds’ starter Raisel Iglesias for a solo homer to open up the scoring. Jason Hammel didn’t only pitch but also helped his own cause as he hit an RBI double to right field in the fifth inning that would give the Cubs the 2-0 lead. Even with the lead the game seemed too close for comfort. That didn’t last too long though. Reds’ closer J.J. Hoover entered the game with a three-run deficit and left with his team down by eight. Hoover got one out before issuing back-to-back walks, followed by a single by Miguel Montero. Addison Russell would then come up and hit an RBI single. He also issued a bases-loaded walk to Matt Szczur, which forced in another run. The Cubs have outscored their opponents: 64-21 in nine games, and they outscored the Reds: 22-6 in the three-game series. With the win, not only did the Cubs complete the sweep of the Reds but were the first team to reach 8 wins. The Cubs have a record of 8-1 in their first nine games for the sixth time in franchise history and for the first time since 1969.
Next up for the Cubs:
* The Cubs begin their second series at home this afternoon against the Colorado Rockies. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks will open the Cubs’ weekend series. Friday is Jackie Robinson day across Major League Baseball, so the teams will be donning Number 42 jerseys. This brings up the importance of baseball, its players and the role models that they are and the impact that they have made. Baseball is fun, but it has also served as a lot more than that.
Embrace the Target. The Cubs know this. And rather than feeling the weight of expectations, this team is having fun. Let’s go and have some more fun this weekend.
Colorado Rockies @ Chicago Cubs
Friday, April 15, 1:20 PM CDT
Chad Bettis, RHP v. Kyle Hendricks, RHP
TV: MLB Network (out of market only)/CSN, Radio: 670 The Score
Sunday, April 17, 1:20 PM CDT
Tyler Chatwood, RHP v. John Lester, LHP
TV: WGN, Radio: 670 The Score
Thanks for reading and as always, Go Cubs!