The Cubs will open the 2022 season four days from now against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.
I think it’s pretty safe to assume that many of you don’t have high hopes for that game, or any game this year.
In 2006, the Cubs were coming off a losing season after a division title in 2003 and a near-miss in 2004. So hopes were high for a recovery to better baseball in ‘06.
The Cubs opened the season in Cincinnati against the Reds. It didn’t take long for them to take a big lead off Aaron Harang. Juan Pierre, in his first game as a Cub, led off with a triple and Todd Walker doubled him in. A walk and single followed, loading the bases, then a Reds error scored Walker to make it 2-0.
Matt Murton was the next hitter.
5-0 after one inning! Now that was a good start. Carlos Zambrano struggled, though, and after he served up a solo homer to Adam Dunn leading off the fifth the game was tied 5-5. Big Z got the next two outs, but then Edwin Encarnacion doubled. It was clear Z had nothing, but Dusty Baker tried to leave him in long enough for the “win.” Old-school stuff, you know.
Will Ohman got the final out of the fifth.
The Cubs then exploded for seven runs in the top of the sixth. Walker, Pierre, Angel Pagan and Neifi Perez all had RBI singles. Derrek Lee added an RBI double and the last Cubs run scored on a double play.
For his one batter retired — four pitches — Ohman was the pitcher of record and got the “win.” You can see how much that mattered.
The Reds scored single runs off Scott Williamson and Scott Eyre, but the Cubs put this one away in the ninth with four more. Three Cubs — Murton, Pierre and Walker — had three hits, and Pierre scored three runs in what wound up a 16-7 Cubs victory. Oddly enough, it was the second straight year the Cubs had scored 16 runs on Opening Day. They defeated the Diamondbacks 16-6 on April 4, 2005 in Phoenix. Zambrano didn’t finish five innings of that one, either.
Those two games mark the most runs the Cubs have ever scored in a season opener, breaking a record set just a couple of years earlier, March 31, 2003, a 15-2 win over the Mets.
And this 16-6 win over the Reds happened 16 years ago today, Monday, April 3, 2006. The rest of that season was not so great. The Cubs were 14-10 on May 1, three games out of first place. They lost 21 of their next 25 and went 16-40 in May and June on their way to a 66-96 finish.