Chicago Cubs

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Cubs release outfielder Ryan Sweeney, eat $1.5 million

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Unable to find a taker for Ryan Sweeney after designating him for assignment, the Cubs have released the veteran outfielder.

Sweeney was a relatively productive semi-regular for the A’s and Cubs from 2008-2013, but he hit just .251 with a .642 OPS in 77 games last season and was pushed out of Chicago’s outfield mix.

However, as part of a multi-year contract signed in October of 2013 he’s owed $1.5 million for this season and a $500,000 buyout for 2016. Chicago is on the hook for that money and Sweeney is now free to sign anywhere for whatever he can get.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Jason Heyward
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Annnnnnndddd . . . we’re back!

 

source: Getty Images

Cardinals 3, Cubs 0: Jason Heyward went 3 for 5 with a couple of doubles and a stolen base. Nice pickup. As for the Cubs, Jon Lester was shaky, the defense was pretty terrible-looking all night long and they were awful with runners in scoring position. And they’ve yet to use all that money they’re going to save on Kris Bryant’s delayed service time to add a couple of new bathrooms. All of the offseason excitement in the world is only worth so much, I guess.

But seriously, guys: don’t sweat it too much. A single-game “Opening Night” lends itself to single game overanalysis. Frankly, that’s the worst part of not opening with 10-15 games at once. After a whole month of playoffs in which every game is important, three months of football in which every game has outsized importance and then all of the March Madness stuff, we’re all wired to put too much stock in the outcome of a three-hour event. To read and write column-length breakdowns and talk about the “storylines” and “what we’ve learned” and all of that jazz.

Let’s not do that here, OK? Last night was one baseball game which amounts to a little over one half of one percent of the baseball season for these two teams and is less than one half of one one-thousandth of the entire baseball season overall. The beauty of baseball season is that it’s long and no one game really matters all that much. When bad things happen, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s try to remember how to get back on that footing again, shall we?

Jason Heyward, Adam Wainwright lead Cardinals to a 3-0 win over the Cubs on Opening Night

Adam Wainwright
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Jason Heyward went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a stolen base in his Cardinals debut and Adam Wainwright blanked the Cubs over six innings in a 3-0 victory on Opening Night in Chicago on Sunday. The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to score, but went hitless in 13 at-bats with runners on scoring position.

The Cardinals took an early lead with a one-out double to right field in the first inning by Heyward, followed by a Matt Holliday single, also to right field. Heyward doubled again in the third and singled in the fifth, but was stranded both times. The Cardinals scored once in the second inning on a Matt Carpenter RBI single and again in the fifth inning on another Holliday RBI single to right field to take a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals’ 1-through-3 hitters combined to go 7-for-14 with two doubles, three RBI, and two runs scored on the evening.

Cubs starter Jon Lester, making his debut with his new club after signing a six-year, $155 million contract in December, lasted only 4 1/3 innings. On 89 pitches, the lefty allowed eight hits, walked two, and struck out six. Phil Coke relieved Lester with runners on second and third and one out, sandwiching an intentional walk around two strikeouts to exit the frame.

Wainwright, meanwhile, threw 101 pitches over his six innings of work, yielding five hits and no walks while striking out six. The right-hander had minor elbow surgery in October and dealt with a minor abdominal injury shortly after pitchers and catches reported in February, but looked completely healthy facing the Cubs. He unleashed a handful of devastating curves during the course of the evening.

Once the starters were out of the game, both teams’ bullpens threw up zeroes the rest of the way. On the Cubs’ side, Coke, Jason Motte, Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon combined to allow just two hits and two walks while striking out six in 4 2/3 innings. For the Cardinals, Carlos Martinez, Jordan Walden, and Trevor Rosenthal combined to allow no hits and two walks while striking out four in three innings. Rosenthal earned the save by striking out the side in the ninth inning.

In non-baseball-related matters at Wrigley Field, which is still undergoing renovations, vendors reportedly ran out of hot dog buns. Arguably more importantly, there were reported issues with the restrooms as well.

The two clubs will enjoy an off-day on Monday — Opening Day for everyone else — before resuming the series on Tuesday, when Lance Lynn of the Cardinals opposes Jake Arrieta of the Cubs.

Welcome back, baseball! We missed you so, so much.

Opening Night lineups: Cardinals vs. Cubs

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Here are the starting lineups for Sunday’s Opening Night game between the Cardinals and Cubs …

St. Louis Cardinals

3B Matt Carpenter
RF Jason Heyward
LF Matt Holliday
SS Jhonny Peralta
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
CF Jon Jay
SP Adam Wainwright

Chicago Cubs

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Jorge Soler
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
C David Ross
3B Mike Olt
SP Jon Lester
2B Tommy La Stella

Peralta batting cleanup instead of Adams is somewhat of a surprise, but otherwise this is a predictable look for the visiting Cardinals and manager Mike Matheny. Cubs manager Joe Maddon threw a bunch of wrenches into his lineup — from Soler batting second, to Castro batting cleanup, to Lester hitting eighth, to Ross starting over Miguel Montero at catcher against a righty. It seems Lester may already have a personal catcher in Chicago.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. First pitch at Wrigley Field is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.

Travis Wood wins final spot in Cubs’ rotation, Edwin Jackson heads to the bullpen

Travis Wood
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MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that lefty Travis Wood has won the last remaining spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation. He’ll take the No. 4 spot ahead of Kyle Hendricks. Edwin Jackson, who lost out on the job to Wood, will head to the bullpen.

Wood allowed nine earned runs with a 13/3 K/BB ratio in 19 1/3 innings this spring. Jackson also allowed nine earned runs but had a 9/4 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings.

A year after finishing with a 3.11 ERA, Wood posted a 5.03 ERA for the Cubs last season. Wood has shown the ability to be an above-average starter but has struggled with consistency over his five-year major league career.