Cubs Rout Pirates in Home Opener; Lester Leaves Early With Injury

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- After a dismal nine-game road trip to begin the season, the Cubs (2-7) were finally back for their home opener yesterday afternoon to face the Pittsburgh Pirates (4-4) in front of a sell-out crowd of 40,692 fans at historic Wrigley Field. It was a beautiful day for baseball at the Friendly Confines with a game-time temperature of 72 degrees.

The game featured opening day starters Jon Lester (1-1 3.00) vs. Jameson Taillon (0-1 3.46) for the Pirates.

The Cubs’ bats have been heating up as of late and started to get to Taillon in the 2nd and take advantage of miscues by the Pirates’ defense. With two outs, after Daniel Descalso reached second on a throwing error by shortstop Kevin Newman and an intentional walk of Jason Heyward, the bats went to work with Jon Lester lacing an 0-2 Taillon offering for an RBI double to left-center field, scoring Descalso to help his cause and give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead. Ben Zobrist followed up with a two-run single past a diving Adam Frazier, scoring Heyward and Lester from 2nd giving the Northsiders a 3-0 lead.

After Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch, a scary moment occurred with Anthony Rizzo at the dish. Rizzo would hit a sharp-liner back at Taillon, deflecting off his head and going into center field, scoring Zobrist to increase the Cubs’ lead to 4-0. After a brief visit from the Pirates’ medical staff, Taillon was well enough to stay in the game and continue.

The scoring would continue when Javier Baez hit a 2-0 pitch that bounced off the dirt, losing his bat in the process, and getting just enough of it to put it over the head of Kevin Newman in shallow left-field, scoring Kris Bryant to put the Cubs up 5-0. Then Kyle Schwarber was at the plate and the shift on. Schwarber hit a grounder back up the middle and was bobbled by Newman behind the second base bag. Newman recovered, however, threw the ball away allowing Rizzo to score to cap off a six-run 2nd for the Cubs. That was Newman’s 3rd error of the inning and Jameson Taillon was finished after two innings, giving up 6 runs, none earned, 4 strikeouts, and 2 walks.

In the top of the 3rd, things didn’t appear right with Lester. After serving up a lead-off single to Pirates’ pinch hitter and relief pitcher Steven Brault, manager Joe Maddon came out to talk to his veteran left-hander. Lester convinced the Cubs’ skipper that he was OK and remained in the game. After the visit to the mound, Adam Frazier hit a sharp single on a 3-1 count to left and Maddon decided he had seen enough and pulled Lester from the game. Brad Brauch came into relief to get Starling Marte to ground into a double-play and strikeout Francisco Cervelli to end a Pittsburgh scoring chance. It was later reported that the Cubs’ southpaw was lifted from the game due to hamstring tightness.

The Northsiders created another scoring opportunity in their bottom-half of the inning to try and add to their lead. Following a Descalso double, Jason Heyward walk, and a Brad Brauch sacrifice bunt to load the bases, Ben Zobrist grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play that scored Descalso to put the Cubs up 7-0. Kris Bryant helped add to the lead hitting a double to score Jason Heyward to give the Cubs a commanding 8-0 lead after 3-innings.

Kyle Schwarber added to the rout with a two-run bomb halfway up the left-field bleachers in the bottom of the 4th, putting the Cubs up 10-0 and that’s how it would stay.

The Cubs’ pitching staff came into the contest with the worst ERA in all of MLB. The bullpen combination of Brad Brauch, Brandon Kintzler, Randy Rosario, and Pedro Strop pitched a gem and combined for giving up 4 hits, 8 strikeouts, and 2 walks in 7-innings to complete the shutout. Brandon Brauch gets the win for his 1st of the year while Jameson Taillon got the loss to drop his record to 0-2.

The win improves the Cubs’ to a 3-7 record as the Pirates fall to 4-5 in this young season.

Javier Baez said after the win, “It was a great day to come back to Chicago. The fans, winning, our bullpen did a great job today. Hopefully that gets us back on track.”

“The group needs that. They’re all really good. I want to believe that an afternoon like today is going to help build that confidence out there that they sorely need.” said Joe Maddon.

When asked about finally coming back home, Brandon Kintzler replied, “It was definitely a really long trip. There was a lot of negativity following you around. It’s good to finally get home and have some people clapping for you.”

With an off-day today, the series concludes Wednesday evening at 7:05 PM with Yu Darvish (0-1 8.10) on the rubber for the Cubs against Jordan Lyles (0-0 0.00) for the Pirates.

GAME NOTES:

  • Yesterday was the 5th time in the first 10 games this season that the Cubs have scored 10 or more runs in a game.
  • The 10-0 victory was the largest shutout victory in a home opener in franchise history.
  • The Cubs have scored 72-runs through the first 10 games, the club’s largest total since 1954.
  • Despite a 3-7 record, the Cubs have outscored their opponents 72-71 so far this season.
  • According to STATS, The Cubs are the fourth team since 1900 to have scored 10 or more runs in a game in five of their first 10 games to start a season.

IN CUBS NEWS:

Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon said in an interview this morning on AM 670 “The Score” that Jon Lester will likely miss 1-2 starts after injuring his hamstring running the bases in yesterday’s game. From the way it looks, with Mike Montgomery still on the 10-day disabled list, Tyler Chatwood will come out of the bullpen and step into the rotation.