Rex Grossman connected with Muhsin Muhammad on a 63-yard touchdown pass, and Robbie Gould booted three forty-plus yard field goals, and the Bears beat the Bengals 16-7 this afternoon.
It's a football score, all right, but not the Bears. For the second year in a row, the Cubs scored sixteen runs on the road on Opening Day and stomped their opponent good.
Now, let's make the REST of this year turn out better than 2005 did.
It was the Cubs, of course, beating the Reds 16-7, after last year's 16-6 pasting of the Diamondbacks in the opener. The 2005 Cubs had 23 hits; this year's version made the most of eighteen hits (and four walks), capitalizing on some very windy conditions in Cincinnati (the Reds made two errors, resulting in six of the 16 runs being unearned). Adam Dunn dropped a popup which opened some of the early floodgates; this resulted in some derisive laughter that you could clearly hear on TV from the remnants of the crowd, when he caught a similar fly ball in the ninth inning.
I missed a fair amount of this due to my work at ABC-7; if you live in Chicago and watch our station at all, you know that we are premiering a new streetside studio on State Street (say that ten times fast!) this weekend, and thus I am working past my usual noon out-time all week this week.
But what I did see seemed really encouraging. Juan Pierre led off the game with a triple; the first five Cubs reached base and they might have had more than five runs if Michael Barrett's liner hadn't been caught for a quick DP. Matt Murton homered (yay!) and had two other hits and also made a really, really nice leaping grab of a ball off the scoreboard in LF.
Incidentally, did it look like Pierre's #9 was sewn on his shirt crooked? It did to me. Either that, or the shirt is about four sizes too large.
All the starters reached base; Jacque Jones had no hits, but did drive in a run.
Dusty emptied his bench; all the reserves played except backup catcher Henry Blanco. Good: Angel Pagan driving in a run in his ML debut; even Neifi had a nice day with a hit and two RBI.
Not so good: Z didn't take advantage of the big lead, coughing it up and throwing 105 pitches in 4.2 innings. Hmmm -- this sounds familiar; he didn't finish five last Opening Day, either, although at least he didn't get ejected today, like he did a year ago.
Not so good: Cub pitchers issued ten walks, five by Z. Allowing that many walks, plus eleven hits, when your best starting pitcher is on the mound, isn't the way to win ballgames. Fortunately, the offense teed off on Aaron Harang and five other Reds pitchers. Frankly, the Reds pitching staff is worse than even I had thought. Harang was relieved by Chris Hammond, who came up through the Reds system and at age 40, may be just about done. Consider this: in his rookie year, 1990, one of his teammates was Ken Griffey.
Freddie Bynum made his Cubs debut by replacing Murton in LF in the 9th inning; for those who keep track of such things, in case you didn't see the game, Kasey, Bynum is wearing uniform #4.
Now, let's see if, unlike last year, the Cubs can sustain this past day one.