Well that’s a very nice way to start off an urgent season, eh?
Despite an early hole and a boatload of groundballs off of not-a-groundball-pitcher Mike Minor, the Cubs’ offense wound up erupting in the process of bouncing Minor from the game, and then knocking around the Rangers’ bullpen. Everyone got in on the act, with hard contact up and down the lineup, and an impressively patient approach that yielded a whopping eight walks.
Jon Lester was more or less exactly what you’d hoped he’d be today. He commanded well, avoiding the meat of the zone, and thus limiting hard contact despite his lower velocity. He even netted 10 swinging strikes, which is perfectly acceptable for him, and otherwise gave the Cubs six solid innings.
The Cubs got homers from Javy Baez, Javy Baez, and Kris Bryant, and also really worked the middle of the field again and again, grounding, what, like six or seven hits up the middle? You don’t love a bunch of ground balls, but the timing was clearly on. All in all, it was an excellent offensive showing.
How nice was it to see Brad Brach in there throwing 93 mph? No, it’s not the 94/95 he’s usually at when he’s at his best, but it’s also way up from the 89 mph range he was sitting late in Spring Training. It’s only March. Plenty of time for him to crest back into his usual range, especially as he gets further from his offseason bout with mono.
Random note: it’s funny to me that some folks freaked about Kyle Schwarber not getting the start, and then he wound up getting more at bats in the game than Mark Zagunis. Have we not yet learned how Joe Maddon operates?