If you thought the Cubs’ starting lineup on Tuesday looked a little weird, you’d be right. Matt Szczur is starting in left field and batting eighth.
Why? Szczur played baseball for Villanova University. Villanova won the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Monday night, defeating North Carolina 77-74 thanks to a buzzer-beater three-pointer from Kris Jenkins.
Manager Joe Maddon thought he’d get some of Villanova’s winning juju by starting Szczur, per MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Maddon said, “Villanova wins the national championship, so I thought it was a good bet for tonight again.”
Szczur, 26, hit a three-run double in his only at-bat during Monday’s 9-0 victory against the Angels. But he hadn’t exactly been Mr. Productive in his 146 previous at-bats between 2014-15, compiling a .224/.276/.343 triple-slash line with three home runs and 13 RBI.
Even ignoring the Villanova connection, starting Szczur does make some sense. Jorge Soler is already in the lineup as the DH, and Kyle Schwarber would be at a disadvantage in the lefty-lefty match-up against Angels starter Andrew Heaney.