Game One – Cubs 0, Cardinals 3
WP – Adam Wainwright (1-0) LP – Jon Lester (0-1) Save – Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Jon Lester lasted only 4 1/3 innings in his debut while the offense couldn’t buy a hit with runners in scoring position and the Cubs lost game one of 162 on Opening Night to the Cardinals.
Sunday was a rough night for the Chicago Cubs. Jon Lester dealt with command issues and labored through a rather short outing, even with being on a limited pitch count. The Cubs were sloppy in the field and committed more mistakes than the two errors they were charged with Sunday. And offensively, the Cubs were a miserable 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Cubs wasted leadoff doubles in three of the first five innings.
For as much change as was expected Sunday night, it was more of the same for the Cubs.
Wrigley Field was electric. The old ballyard was buzzing and even Pat Hughes thought it was a playoff atmosphere. But those that dealt with the shifting winds and dropping temperatures had nothing to cheer for beyond the player introductions.
The Cardinals really had their way with Jon Lester, especially on the bases. It is well-known throughout the game that Lester does not like throwing to bases. The Cardinals pulled off a double steal and took huge leads when Lester was on the hill. Lester gave up three runs, all earned, on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Lester threw 89 pitches, 57 for strikes, in 4 1/3 innings.
Jason Heyward (3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored) had another huge Opening Day against the Cubs. Heyward and Matt Holliday (2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI) collected half of the Cardinals’ 10 hits and gave Adam Wainwright all of the run support he would need in the first inning.
Jon Lester retired Matt Carpenter on a grounder to Tommy La Stella to start the game. Jason Heyward followed with a double to right. Lester fell behind Holliday 2-0. Matt Holliday ripped a single into right. Jorge Soler bobbled the ball, Heyward scored and three batters into the game the Cubs were down 1-0. Lester struck out Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams to end the inning.
The Cardinals put another run on the board in the second inning after the Cubs wasted a leadoff double from Dexter Fowler (1-for-4 with a double).
Lester struck out Yadier Molina for the first out, but walked Kolten Wong. Jon Jay singled to right, Wong went to third. Lester caught Adam Wainwright looking for the second out. Matt Carpenter (2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) made it 2-0 with a single to right center. Jason Heyward stepped in with runners on the corners and two down. Carpenter took off for second on Lester’s first pitch and David Ross threw him out to end the inning.
The Cardinals tacked on to their lead in the fifth and knocked Lester out of the game.
Carpenter singled to right (3-2 pitch) and moved to third on a single to left by Heyward on a 3-2 pitch. Holliday dropped a single in front of Jorge Soler. Soler fired to second as Carpenter scored, 3-0 Cardinals. But Starlin Castro dropped another ball and instead of forcing Heyward at second, the Cardinals had runners on first and second with one out. With Peralta at the plate, the Cardinals pulled off a double steal. Heyward got a walking lead, took off for third and Holliday slide in at second. Ross dropped the ball and did not make a throw. Peralta popped out to Tommy La Stella in shallow center. And Joe Maddon made his first slow walk of the season.
Maddon went to Phil Coke and the veteran lefty bailed out Lester. Coke struck out Matt Adams. The Cubs intentionally walked Molina to load the bases. Coke went right after Wong and struck him out to end the inning.
With Adam Wainwright on the hill, a 3-0 lead in the fifth felt like the Cubs were down by 10 runs.
The bullpen did an excellent job in relief of Lester. Jason Motte, Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon followed Coke and the bullpen kept the Cardinals off the board over the final 4 2/3 innings of Sunday’s game.
The Cubs managed five hits Sunday night, but only two baserunners after Wainwright left the game. The Cubs hit several balls that the wind knocked down and Joe Maddon saw firsthand how fast the wind will shift at Wrigley. It was 10-15 degrees warmer than it was at first pitch during batting practice and the wind shifted from blowing out to straight in for a majority of the game.
Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts and two men left on base), Starlin Castro (1-for-4), Chris Coghlan (1-for-4 with a double), David Ross (1-for-2 with a double) and Arismendy Alcantara (0-for-1 with a walk) reached base Sunday night. But when the Cubs needed someone to make contact, the swings and misses stood out once again. Cardinals’ pitching recorded 12 strikeouts.
The controversial video board in left field is an excellent addition to Wrigley Field. The board featured very good graphics that were tied in to the classic feel of the ballpark. The right field board will provide a balance that was missing Sunday night. It was incredibly strange looking into the outfield and only seeing the tributes in the bleachers to Ernie Banks. Wrigley felt one-sided and incomplete.
The Cubs will regroup Monday and have a day to think about Opening Night. The Cubs resume the 2015 season on Tuesday night, weather permitting. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face Lance Lynn.