If a baseball team wants to be successful, a simple goal is to win serieseseses. Take two out of three and a winning season is guaranteed. Thursday’s game against the Dodgers gave the Cubs the chance to win their third series in a row to open the season. Luckily for starting pitcher Brett Anderson, his teammates brought some defense to the Friendly Confines.
Albert Almora and Jason Heyward made outstanding catches on hard-hit balls in the top of the 1st. Kyle Schwarber even tried to get in on the act, making a bobbling catch that was eventually ruled a double on review. Almora made another highlight-reel catch on Corey Seager to end the inning.
Anthony Rizzo kicked off the scoring with a line-drive solo homer to right in the bottom of the inning. Addison Russell doubled the lead with a blast onto Waveland Avenue in the 4th.
Anderson did not have his best stuff Thursday, giving up lots of hard contact and walking four with three hits allowed in 5 innings. Several potential longballs were eaten up by the April winds.
Chicago knocked starter Hyun-Jin Ryu from the game in the 5th inning. Javy Baez singled and pinch-hitter Jon Jay was hit by a pitch. Schwarber singled past diving first baseman Scott Van Slyke to score Baez. Rizzo then singled to score Jay and a wild throw to 3rd by Yasiel Puig led Schwarber to break for home. Enrique Hernandez backed up the throw and gunned War Bear out at the plate.
The 4-0 lead was turned over to Carl Edwards Jr. in the 6th. Edwards bounced back from a rough outing Monday with a pair of scoreless innings. Of course the thin-as-a-rail reliever was aided by a great leaping double play started by Baez in the 7th.
Koji Uehara pitched around a Puig single in the 8th. Wade Davis allowed a lead-off double, but closed out the 4-0 Northsider win.
Stats That Matter
- Anthony Rizzo seems to be leaving his slow start in the past. The captain was 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs batted in.
- Javy Baez got on base twice (1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) and made another great defensive play. Baez is off to a slow start, but I think it’s only temporary.
- Albert Almora was 1-for-3 with a walk, but that’s not why he’s here. Almora made two excellent catches early in the game to rob extra bases from Corey Seager. If either had dropped and LA took an early lead, the game may have ended differently.
Perhaps the best asset of the 2016 Cubs was their elite defense. If 2017 is going to follow suit, Gold Glove work from Albert Almora will be needed. So far, so good in that department.
The Cubs open up a three-game series with the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday afternoon. Pirate ace Gerrit Cole takes on Chicago’s so-called fifth starter Kyle Hendricks at 1:20 CT. The game is on WGN-9 (MLB Network again nationally) and 670 the Score.