Indulge me, please.
I’m probably not going to be able to write about the undefeated 2022 Chicago Cubs for much longer, maybe not even another day.
Hendricks did not have a good spring. But he came out in this game looking like vintage Professor. He struck out seven, and allowed a freakish run in the fourth inning when a double play couldn’t be completed. He had his usual breaking ball working and threw 83 pitches (51 strikes) through a bit more than five innings, which is longer than I thought he’d go.
The Brewers took that 1-0 lead into the fifth, and then the Cubs offense finally got untracked against 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Seiya Suzuki led off with a single, his first MLB hit, and that’s worth a look [VIDEO].
Weird little note about that:
From @ESPNStatsInfo : Seiya Suzuki is the 6th player over the last 5 seasons to record his first MLB hit off of a reigning Cy Young winner.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) April 7, 2022
Weird, but fun. Anyway, Jason Heyward (who had two hits on the day and played a competent center field) followed with a single, Suzuki taking third. Patrick Wisdom then tied the game with a sac fly [VIDEO].
No, you did not have Nico Hoerner in the “Who’s going to hit the first MLB home run of 2022” pool.
Hendricks was relieved by Daniel Norris in the sixth with a runner on. He got out of the inning with a double play, but got in trouble in the seventh with a double and walk. He got one out on a force play, but then was removed (properly, I thought) for Chris Martin. Martin allowed an RBI double to Willy Adames, then a sac fly by Christian Yelich that tied the game.
Yelich got booed at Ryan Braun level loudness all afternoon. I didn’t understand that. Braun deserved it, I thought. Yelich... what’s he done to Cubs fans?
Anyway, the game went 3-3 to the bottom of the seventh and the Cubs got busy. Clint Frazier led off with a double and one out later Willson Contreras got hit by a pitch, seemingly the millionth time a Brewers pitcher has hit him over the last couple of years. That was a mistake on Milwaukee’s part, because Happ brought both runners home [VIDEO].
That ball didn’t miss being a three-run homer by much. The Cubs had a 5-3 lead heading to the eighth. Rowan Wick relieved Martin and allowed a pair of hits sandwiched around a fly ball, then Lorenzo Cain hit a sac fly to make it 5-4. Mychal Givens made his Cubs debut and struck out Mike Brosseau to end the inning.
The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the eighth, and David Robertson got the first save opportunity for the 2022 Cubs. He allowed a one-out single, but finished things up with this ground ball for a Cubs victory [VIDEO].
This factoid sums things up well:
Going to duck after tweeting this out: The Cubs have not lost a game in which they led by 2 or more runs after 7 innings since the start of the 2020 season (66-0). They are the only team in baseball to go undefeated in this spot over that span.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) April 7, 2022
I would not have guessed that, but there you go. They’re now 67-0 in that specific spot, and that means good bullpen work when there’s a lead like that. That’s one of the things Jed Hoyer specifically addressed this offseason, getting good late-inning relievers in place, and it worked well on Opening Day.
35,112 paid for tickets on this chilly afternoon; there were maybe 27,000 or so in the house, though many left early. Despite forecasts of all-afternoon rain, all we got at the ol’ ballyard were a few sprinkles — not even enough to unfurl the again-permitted umbrellas at Wrigley (and thank you Cubs management for allowing small umbrellas back in the park). It was windy, but the temperature in the mid-40s was tolerable (better than the 36-degree opener last year).
Always good to see old friends on Opening Day and the gameday staff was welcoming and many old friends among the staff returned this year. Great to be back at the ballpark despite the weather, and the Cubs are undefeated, for now, anyway.
A couple of notes for things you didn’t see: The Cubs honored George Wiseman, a season ticket holder who passed away in January (and who was a World Series ringbearer in 2017) with a video board presentation in the middle of the sixth inning. And earlier, they ran a montage of pitchers batting — some hitting home runs, others striking out, they showed Jon Lester’s 2016 walkoff bunt to end it — and titled it “Thank you pitchers, we’ll see you in a pinch.” Nice touch, I thought.
Weather permitting (and it might not), these teams will meet again Friday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. Justin Steele is scheduled to start for the Cubs and Brandon Woodruff will go for the Brewers. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.