So Much Fun, Stroman’s Historic Start, the Version of This Team That Wins, and Other Cubs Bullets
What a nice day I had yesterday. Got to hang out with a lot of my friends. Got to meet a ton of new people. Got to hear so many kind words. And got to watch the Cubs shut out the Brewers on Opening Day at Wrigley Field. I’m still smiling. Mild headache, sure. But still smiling.
- Let’s start with a fun fact about the win:
- Like I (tried to say) said in the Enhanced Box Score last night after a beer or two, that game was kinda the platonic ideal of how the 2023 Chicago Cubs can compete. They’re going to need great pitching and great defense. They’re going to need to limit the mistakes on both sides of the ball. They’re going to need to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. And they’re going to need to be pesky at the plate. There are 161 games to go and they definitely won’t all look like that, but it was great to see the Cubs come out of the gate and be the thing we really hope they can be.
- Here’s how Dansby Swanson put it (Cubs.com): “This is not like an ‘I told you so,’ moment, but it’s just awesome when you’re proved right. I think it’s just such a great thing for our team, because it just gives even more believability in who we are.”
- Let’s talk about the experience of watching a game in the park in the pitch clock era. Overall I thought it was good in the ways it was supposed to be good: keep the action moving, keep you locked into the game. I would say it felt, at times, like things were moving quite fast, and you didn’t have nearly as much time to do the BS chit-chat you do out in the bleachers between pitches. The tradeoff is probably worth it, because I still had a blast, but it was definitely noticeable. Getting in little side bets with friends between pitches was more or less impossible. My guess is that the pitch clock is going to be slightly more enjoyable when watching on TV than when in the stadium.
- The game featured the first pitch clock violation in baseball history, with Marcus Stroman missing the clock by a second:
- Not that the violation mattered much, because Stroman was awesome. Over six scoreless innings, Stroman allowed just three hits and three walks, and struck out eight. He got 15(!) whiffs on the day out of 90 pitches. He got seven groundouts and there were ZERO outs in the air. That sanker be sankin’, and such.
- Stroman’s start was one of only three Opening Day outings like that in Cubs history:
- The Cubs went right to Keegan Thompson in a bridge spot in the game, without any concerns about those spring velocity questions. And the good news is that Thompson averaged 93 mph on the fastball (which, frankly, isn’t even all that concerning for March anyway), and he touched 95 mph at one point.
- Also, how nasty did Michael Fulmer look in the 9th? It wasn’t a “save” situation, but a four-run lead on Opening Day sure feels like it probably came with some pressure. That was great to see.
- Also, Fulmer got some help from his first baseman on one of his outs. Fulmer made a nice play, but a bad throw, and Eric Hosmer made a helluva scoop:
- The big news in the Cardinals’ season opener was the Willson Contreras injury, but a secondary note is that they twice blew late leads to lose the game to the Blue Jays:
- As for Contreras, the official word is no broken bones and it’s just a contusion. He’ll undergo an MRI to make sure there was no other damage in there, but he may have avoided the worst.
- Nico Hoerner on his extension with the Cubs:
- And big praise from his manager:
- Some complaints – well, they say they aren’t making excuses, but … – about how the pitch clock made the Phillies feel sped up in an inning when the wheels came off:
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Strong Stretch Against Strong Teams, Swanson’s First Dinger, Hendricks Rehab, Velazquez, Amaya, and Other Cubs Bullets