The Chicago Cubs continue to make a statement by drilling three home runs. Outfielder Matt Szczur started the game out in left field and recorded his fourth RBI in only two games. Meanwhile, southpaw Jon Lester held the Angels to only one earned run.
Following another fantastic regular season start by 2015 N.L. Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, veteran southpaw Jon Lester cruised his way to his first win of the season. Lester displayed some consistency issues last season but appeared to be on the right track by limiting young slugger Mike Trout and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols.
Early on in the game, Angels (0-2) southpaw Andrew Heaney stepped off the mound while facing Anthony Rizzo and called for the trainer. At first, we thought maybe it had something to do with his jersey but it turned out he had a nose bleed. The injury delayed the game by several minutes, giving the players some time to relax.
After both starters held each lineup scoreless across the first two innings, the Chicago Cubs (2-0) came alive in the third. Before Heaney was able to get comfortable, Villanova alumni. Szczur turned on the first pitch of the at-bat, sending it out to deep left field to give Lester a one-run lead.
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Szczur finished the night 2-for-4 with a run scored, a strikeout and flew out to deep center field late in the game. Speaking of center field, Trout failed to record his first hit of the season.
Both Lester and the bullpen kept him hitless in four plate appearances while Pedro Strop sat him down swinging in the ninth. Lester (1-0, 1.29 ERA) gave up four hits and one earned run with zero walks and four strikeouts in seven solid innings of work.
He received more run support following Szczur’s home run after David Ross put himself into scoring position with a double to center field. It looked as if he was going back-to-back with the young left fielder but he would still come around to score on a fielder’s choice.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo joined the Chicago Airshow by hammering a pitch over the head of Trout in center. Rizzo’s two-run homer capped off the Cubs four-run third inning.
While Lester was showing signs of strength on the mound, the Angels finally scored their first run of the young campaign. Third baseman Yunel Escobar recorded his first double of the season to right field and came around to score on an RBI base knock off the bat of Craig Gentry.
Veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler drove in the final two runs of the ballgame later on in the seventh. Fowler, like Szczur, had two hits for the Cubs and delivered a two-run shot of his own to right field. The home run ball landed in almost the same exact spot as Miguel Montero‘s Opening Night big fly.
His batting average currently sits at .625 with an OPS of 1.792. Despite squaring off against a handful of young pitchers in Los Angeles, his toughest test of the month will come in Arizona.
They’ll make that drive from L.A. to Phoenix overnight with an off-day on Wednesday. Right-hander John Lackey will be picking up his first start as a member of the Chicago Cubs.