The Padres rallied for a 5-2 victory over the Cubs to take the series on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Jon Lester dropped to 0-3 after giving up three runs on six hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings. Lester now has pitched six innings or less in three consecutive starts for the first time since June 6-21, 2013. He also has given up three or more runs in four consecutive starts dating back to last season for the first time since May 20-June 27, 2013.
Kris Bryant collected his first extra-base hit, a double in the fifth. He has reached base in seven of his last nine plate appearances. Jorge Soler notched his team-leading ninth RBIs.
The Cubs continued to run, and now have 13 stolen bases, which ranks among the NL leaders.
San Diego’s Andrew Cashner picked up the win. He survived a shaky first and gave up two runs — both unearned — on five hits over six innings.
Up next: The Cubs hit the road and begin a seven-game trip Monday in Pittsburgh. Jake Arrieta gets the start at PNC Park.
Jon Lester aims at his first win with the Cubs, and a chance for the team to win another series on Sunday at Wrigley Field in the finale vs. the Padres. Andrew Cashner gets the start for San Diego. Here’s the Cubs lineup:
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Olt, who had to come out of Saturday’s game after he was hit on the right wrist by a pitch, was starting at third base Monday night for the Cubs in Game 1 of their three-game series against the Reds. Anthony Rizzo bats second for the second time this season. He also did so Sunday.
Jon Lester gets the start and it will be interesting to watch if Cincy speedster Billy Hamilton tests him.
Here’s the lineup:
Pinch-hitter Welington Castillo hit a RBI single and scored on Dexter Fowler’s two-run homer in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 6-5 come from behind victory over the Rockies and take the series. DJ LeMahieu gave the Rockies a lead with a bases-clearing triple in the second inning off Kyle Hendricks, who did not get a decision. Hendricks gave up a career-high five runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. This was Hendricks’ first start of the season. Hendricks did hit a RBI single, Miguel Montero added a RBI double and Anthony Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly. The Rockies made four errors, including two in the Chicago fifth that led to two runs.
Up next: The Cubs return home to face the Reds Monday night at Wrigley Field. Jon Lester gets the start.
The Cardinals spoiled the coming out party for Jon Lester and Joe Maddon at Wrigley Field Sunday night. Matt Holliday hit a pair of RBI singles to back Adam Wainwright and lead the Cardinals to a 3-0 victory on Opening Night.
“It was a good atmosphere tonight,” Cubs catcher David Ross said. “Sometimes with that atmosphere, you try a little hard, or whatever. it was loud to start the game, I had butterflies, and I haven’t had butterflies in a while. That was a lot of fun. We didn’t play our best baseball tonight but there are a lot of areas we can improve on.”
Lester scattered eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, striking out six. He felt his pitches were a little flat, and didn’t blame his time off in Spring Training.
The other issue was something Cubs fans saw all too much of in 2014 when they ranked 14th in the NL with runners in scoring position. On Sunday, they were 0-for-13.
“I think we had pretty good at-bats and guys going deep in counts,” Anthony Rizzo said. “Wainwright came through when he needed to.”
Rizzo didn’t think Lester had a bad outing.
“If three runs [off Lester] is a tough outing, I’ll take that every time,” Rizzo said. “We had good at-bats, we just didn’t score when we needed to.”
Sunday marked the debut of the new video scoreboard in left field. There was a packed crowd of 35,055, even if they couldn’t sit in the bleachers, which are under construction.
“It was a very cool experience,” Mike Olt said. “It was loud and it was fun to be a part of. We wish we could’ve got the ‘W’ but we’ll come in on Tuesday ready to go.”
— Carrie Muskat
* Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams joined Ernie Banks’ sons, Jerry and Joey, as they threw out ceremonial first pitches prior to Sunday’s Cubs game against the Cardinals. Ernie Banks died in late January at the age of 83, and the Cubs showed a montage of some of Mr. Cubs’ career on the new video board.
The Cubs also honored Banks with oversized black and white photos from his career that were stretched over the left and right field bleachers, which are currently under construction. All fans attending Sunday’s game were given No. 14 pins in honor of Banks.
* Jon Lester has maintained that he doesn’t need a personal catcher, but manager Joe Maddon matched up the left-hander with David Ross on Sunday. Lester has a 2.77 ERA when Ross is behind the plate.
“I wanted Jon to go out there more comfortably,” Maddon said.
Miguel Montero, projected as the Cubs starting catcher, is 5-for-17 lifetime against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright.
“For right now, based on what I saw all camp, regardless of what Jon has said, I think it’s a better way to go on Opening Night right now to have Rossy catch him,” Maddon said.
* Matt Szczur was called into Maddon’s office last Wednesday. Szczur knew the team was making roster moves and wasn’t sure where he fit.
“[Maddon] said, ‘I hate to give this news to a Villanova guy, but you made the team,'” Szczur said Sunday, sitting in the dugout at Wrigley Field, on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster for the first time in his young career.
“It was great, and a really great feeling,” Szczur said. “They told me I earned it, which was an even better feeling. I worked hard this offseason to fine tune it.”
Szczur and Maddon had a friendly wager this spring because their respective schools, Villanova and Lafayette, faced off in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Villanova crushed Maddon’s school, and the manager had to wear a Wildcats sweatshirt plus get a bottle of wine for Szczur.
“The skip’s a good sport,” Szczur said of Maddon. “He’s trying to get me a Lafayette sweater. I’m waiting for it.”
Szczur was able to get his family to Wrigley Field in time for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
* Sunday was Maddon’s first time in the cramped interview room at Wrigley Field.
“I can get claustrophobic in here,” he said.
— Carrie Muskat
Jon Lester would like to have had Kris Bryant in the lineup on Opening Night but the Cubs starter also understands why the top prospect is not going to be at Wrigley Field.
“As a player, it [stinks],” Lester said Tuesday about the Cubs decision to assign Bryant to the Minor League camp after he led the Major Leagues with nine home runs and batted .425 this spring.
“It took me a while to understand it when I was coming up, but the quicker you learn this game is a business, the better off you are,” Lester said. “They can say, ‘Development, deveopment’ all they want. This game’s a business and it comes down to that.”
The Cubs front office did say the need for more development was a reason for Bryant to open at Triple-A Iowa. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has stressed it was not a business decision, but having Bryant in the Minor Leagues also delays the start of the third baseman’s service time.
“I’m sure Kris has handled it very, very well,” Lester said of the decision, announced Monday. “He’s a good kid and he’ll be with us at some point. We’ve all been there. He’s just a little more high profile than the rest of us were coming up.”
Lester will make his Cubs debut Sunday night when they play host to the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. No knock on third baseman Mike Olt, but Lester wouldn’t mind having Bryant in the lineup.
“You want anybody who’s swinging the bat like he is, but at the same time, we all understand what’s going on,” Lester said. “A lot of these guys went through the same situation, but we weren’t Kris Bryant and we weren’t hitting nine homers in Spring Training.
“We’ve all had that conversation and at the end of the day, when you sit back and look at it, you say, ‘I get it,'” he said. “He’ll be with us at some point hitting homers. It’s just a fun topic for everybody to talk about right now.”
— Carrie Muskat
Jon Lester tuned up for Opening Night by throwing 84 pitches in a MInor League game Tuesday in Mesa. Lester struck out four of the 20 batters faced. Bijan Rademacher gave him a hard time in the fourth with a 12-pitch at-bat.
Lester started three Cactus League games and then was scratched from his March 21 start because of a tired arm. The lefty has made two Minor League starts since then to prepare for Sunday’s season opener against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
— Carrie Muskat
* When Joe Maddon met with Addison Russell to tell the shortstop he was being assigned to Minor League camp, the Cubs manager was nearly speechless.
“I couldn’t tell him what to work on,” Maddon said. “He’s that accomplished at that age. I told him, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.'”
Russell and top prospect Kris Bryant were both assigned to Minor League camp, while Javier Baez was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday. The moves leave the Cubs with 35 players in spring camp.
* Outfielder Chris Denorfia, sidelined with a sore left hamstring, took batting practice on Monday and was expected to play in a Minor League game by mid week. Whether or not he’ll be ready for Opening Day is still to be determined.
“I don’t like to speculate on things like that,” Denorfia said Monday. “When you’re rehabbing anything can happen. As long as everything progresses the way it should, [I should be ready] sometime around that time. The goal is to be ready by then.”
* Jon Lester will start in a Minor League game on Tuesday at the Cubs complex, his final tune up before Opening Night. The Cubs want to be able to control his pitch count and situations. The left-hander was scratched from his March 21 start because of a tired arm.
* Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks will likely pitch on Saturday in the Cubs’ final Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The rest of the big league team will be headed to Chicago that day to prepare for the season opener on Sunday night against the Cardinals.
* The Cubs players were greeted by “DJ Sean” as they did their morning stretch on Monday, courtesy of bench coach Dave Martinez, who found the disc jockey at a Scottsdale restaurant. Maddon was among those asked to dance a little after the stretch.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have set their pitching probables for the final week of Cactus League play. Here’s a schedule. Remember, it’s subject to change:
Sunday at Royals: RHP Edwin Jackson
Monday vs Giants: RHP Kyle Hendricks
Tuesday at Rangers: LHP Eric Jokisch
Wednesday vs Brewers: RHP Jason Hammel
Friday at Diamondbacks, Chase Field: RHP Edwin Jackson
* When will Jon Lester pitch? The left-hander is scheduled to start in a Minor League game on Tuesday in Mesa in his final game action before the season opener on April 5 at Wrigley FIeld. Travis Wood will start in a “B” game on Monday. Also, Dallas Beeler, sidelined this spring with soreness in his right bicep, will throw two innings in a sim game on Tuesday.
— Carrie Muskat