I love it when a great picture is available. This one had to be a special one for David Ross. I have little doubt that this meant a little something extra for guys like Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras to bring this one home for their old teammate.
It’s important to never read too much into any one game, even if it is the opener. But Kyle Hendricks was just about as good as he can be. Handed the ball for opening day for the first time, he turned in a real ace performance. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ are two young players who may not be given every day at bats, but both got the opening night start and the two of them teamed up to give the Cubs the 2-0 lead that turned out to be more than enough.
Happ is, of course, no stranger to opening day home runs. Let’s hope there are plenty more where that came from. A productive Happ would make the Cubs an infinitely better team. Anthony Rizzo added a home run to put the cherry on top and the Cubs cruised to a 3-0 victory.
By the end, the biggest question was if Hendricks could get this one in at “Maddux” level. That metric calls for a complete game in under 100 pitches. He just missed. But, he got it done, closing it out with a string of ground balls in the ninth.
A win is only a win. But it’s pretty sweet when it comes at the hands of one of your nemeses. 59 to go. Let’s hope there are plenty more of these.
Game 1, July 24: Cubs 3, Brewers 0 (1-0)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.527). Nine innings, three hits, no walks, nine strike outs. He faced just 30 hitters. Oddly enough, he held eight Brewers hitless.
- Hero: Ian Happ (.160). The Cubs bats were pretty quiet too, managing just one walk and five hits. But, the long ball was the difference. Happ’s gave Hendricks some breathing room in the third.
- Sidekick: Anthony Rizzo (.060). Rizzo had the other homer and the game’s lone walk. Allow me my shocked face, he was also hit by a pitch.
- Billy Goat: Jason Heyward (-.073). JHey grounded into a double play his first time up. That put him in a pretty big WPA hole and he didn’t escape in a hitless day.
- Goat: Kris Bryant (-.063). He had a nice long at bat to start the game, but still came up empty in four plate appearances. He struck out twice.
- Kid: Willson Contreras (-.061). Hitless in three at bats and struck out twice.
WPA Play of the Game: Ian Happ went deep with one out and a runner on first in the third inning. (.190)
*Brewers Play of the game: With one out and a runner on first, Brad Woodruff induced an inning ending double play grounder off the bat of Jason Heyward. (.054)
Up Next: Game two sees Yu Darvish head to the mound for the Cubs. The Brewers will counter with Corbin Burnes . Yu has made five career starts against the Brewers, throwing 27 innings and allowing only 19 hits, seven walks and five runs (three earned). He has a 1-1 record and a 1.67 ERA. Burnes has made six appearances against the Cubs, but only one was a start. He’s thrown a total of 11 innings, allowing 10 hits, five walks, five homers and nine runs. He does have 14 strikeouts. But he is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA. The 25-year-old was dominating in the preseason experience he got. He pitched in four games, starting two, threw 10 innings and allowed only one run (a homer). He was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA.
The Cubs will certainly be the favorites, but we all know this Brewers team always plays the Cubs tough. Assume nothing.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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