Tag: Chicago Cubs

Jason Heyward

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


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

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

wrigley old

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

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.

2015 Preview: Texas Rangers

Jeff Banister

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Big Question: Will this get worse before it gets better?

After five consecutive winning seasons, including back-to-back trips to the World Series, the Rangers’ run of success came to screeching halt last season as injuries decimated the roster. Texas players combined to spend 2,116 days on the disabled list, which is the highest total by any team since DL data started being tracked in 2002. And just one other team during that time, the Diamondbacks in 2004, was above 2,000 days lost.

It was a horror show and not surprisingly the Rangers fell from 91-72 in 2013 to an AL-worst 67-95. Ron Washington stepped down after eight seasons as manager and the Rangers fired interim manager Tim Bogar despite his success down the stretch, giving the job to Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister. When a consistent contender suffers a ridiculous number of injuries and loses 95 games the easy assumption is that they’ll bounce back in a huge way the next season. Sadly, that doesn’t seem likely for the Rangers.

They couldn’t even get out of spring training unscathed by the injury bug, as ace Yu Darvish was lost for the season before it began with Tommy John elbow surgery and former stud prospect Jurickson Profar was ruled out for a second straight season with shoulder problems. Left-hander Martin Perez isn’t unexpected back from Tommy John surgery until midseason and left-hander Matt Harrison is a question mark after spinal fusion surgery. It’s safe to assume the Rangers won’t have another 2,000-plus days of DL time, because it’s safe to assume that about any team, but this is hardly a healthy bunch and losing Darvish is a massive blow.

The good news on the health front is that Prince Fielder looks recovered from the neck injury that ended his season in May and Shin-Soo Choo is one season removed from being good enough that the Rangers gave him $130 million, so if they can get back on track and should-be Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre can continue to hold off father time at age 36 the middle of the lineup can definitely do some damage. Their supporting cast (Ryan Rua, Robinson Chirinos, Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland) looks iffy in a lot of spots, though, especially without the promise of Profar emerging as a building block player.

As for the Darvish-less pitching staff … well, FanGraphs projects the Rangers to allow more runs than every MLB team but the Rockies this season and Baseball Prospectus is only slightly less pessimistic in projecting they’ll rank 24th in runs allowed. Derek Holland was injured for most of last season and offseason trade pickup Yovani Gallardo has seen his strikeout rate plummet–and they’re the two best bets in a rotation that’s also home to Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler, and Nick Tepesch. And the bullpen is relying an awful lot on a post-surgery Neftali Feliz returning to form.

What else is going on?

  • Allow me to double-back on the “should-be Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre” thing. Most people may not think of him as bound for Cooperstown, but Beltre is a four-time Gold Glove-winning third baseman with a .285 career batting average, 395 homers, and 2,604 hits. And he’s still an elite player, batting .324 with an .879 OPS last season to put 450 homers and 3,000 hits within reach. Among all third basemen in MLB history Beltre ranks seventh in Wins Above Replacement, behind only Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Chipper Jones, and Brooks Robinson. All of those guys are in the Hall of Fame or will be very soon. As if the third baseman one spot behind Adrian in eighth place, Ron Santo. Adrian Beltre should be a Hall of Famer.
  • Profar was the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball two years ago, so having to wait until 2016 to see what remains of his upside is sad. Texas still has a really good, really young middle infielder with tons of upside in Rougned Odor, who debuted last season at age 20 and held his own with a .700 OPS in 114 games as the youngest regular in the entire league. Odor’s approach at the plate is very raw and his K/BB ratios aren’t pretty, but he was one of just eight 20-year-old middle infielders in MLB history to play 100-plus games and post an adjusted OPS+ of at least 95. The last four to do so? Starlin Castro in 2010, Alex Rodriguez in 1996, Roberto Alomar in 1988, and Bill Mazeroski in 1957.
  • Gallardo was a really good, durable, and generally underrated starter for the Brewers, but his annual strikeout rate has dipped from 9.0 to 7.2 to 6.8 and his average fastball now clocks in at 91 miles per hour. He induces enough ground balls to avoid being totally wrecked by calling the Rangers’ power-inflating ballpark home, but switching from the NL to the AL may shine a light on the 29-year-old impending free agent’s deteriorating skills.
  • Fielder is owed $24 million per season through 2020, Choo is owed $20 million per season through 2020, and Andrus is owed $15 million per season through 2022. Those are the three players around which general manager Jon Daniels has decided to build and if they don’t start making good on those long-term investments it’s going to be extremely difficult to turn things around quickly.

Prediction: Fewer disabled list stints and slightly fewer losses, but another last-place finish in the AL West.