Believe it or not, the Cubs have won the first two games of a season just once since 1996 — that was in 2016, when they went 3-0 before losing one to the Diamondbacks.
So a win tonight, while perhaps not all that significant in the long run, would be something rare in franchise history.
Other notes for tonight:
- Thursday marked the first time the Cubs hit at least three Opening Day homers on the road since April 5, 1988 at Atlanta (a 10-9 Cubs win).
- Anthony Rizzo yesterday made his sixth straight Opening Day start at first base. The last Cubs player to start six straight Opening Days at first base was Derrek Lee, done seven-straight seasons from 2004-10.
- Since the beginning of 2015, the Cubs have played 523 games between the regular season (487) and postseason (36), the most of any big league club (the Dodgers are second with 518 combined games and the Astros are third with 511).
Also, this is a cool shot of Ian Happ’s first-pitch home run on Opening Day:
Here are today’s particulars.
If you’re wondering where Happ is after his big day Thursday, keep in mind the Marlins are starting a rookie lefthander. That’s a perfect opportunity to get Albert Almora Jr. and Ben Zobrist some at-bats.
Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Caleb Smith, LHP
After Kyle Hendricks returned from his finger injury last July, he posted a 2.19 ERA and 1.179 WHIP in 13 starts covering 78 innings. These numbers nearly matched his outstanding 2016 season. He also averaged six innings per start in those 13 starts, something the Cubs could surely use. Kyle also posted good spring numbers: 2.37 ERA, 0.789 WHIP in 19 spring innings, with just two walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity was reported up from last year, which is important. Even a couple of MPH on his fastball will set up his changeup better.
As is the case with most Cubs starters, Kyle hasn’t faced these particular Marlins much. No Marlin has more than eight career at-bats against him. Justin Bour has the only homer off Kyle in 46 total AB from current Marlins. You might remember that 2016 home run — it was a grand slam after an error that should have ended the inning eventually resulted in a bases-loaded situation, and that slam was very unusual:
Tonight was the first time in #Cubs history they allowed a first inning grand slam and no other runs in the rest of the game.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 25, 2016
Kyle Hendricks: from 1913-present, this is the only start by a #Cubs pitcher of at least 5 innings with 4+ Runs and no more than 1 hit.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 25, 2016
You might remember that the Cubs had Caleb Smith in spring camp in 2017 as a Rule 5 draftee from the Yankees. He posted a 4.26 ERA in 6⅓ innings and was returned. The Yankees traded him to the Marlins last November after he made nine appearances (two starts) for them and put up these numbers: 7.71 ERA, 1.661 WHIP, four HR allowed in 18⅔ innings.
And now, he is the Marlins’ No. 2 starter. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know.
He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster.
Today’s game is on WGN.
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The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.