With the banners raised and rings presented, the Chicago Cubs shift focus to the business of 2017, with the Dodgers being their first target.
It is finished. All of the celebrations from the 2016 World Series championship is officially over. The Chicago Cubs raised the banners and received their rings. Now it is time to get to business.
Last night did not go according to the scripted fairy tale that we all imagined. While John Lackey and the Cubs fought hard, too many double plays and fielding mistakes at important times doomed the team to a loss. Maybe it was the distraction of the rings. 108 diamonds will do that to you.
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Lefty on lefty
The final game of the series features left-handed pitchers looking to get their first win of the season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, who appears to finally be healthy, takes the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A rotation decimated by injures over the last few seasons, Ryu is making his third start since 2014. Shoulder surgery forced him to miss all of the 2015 and part of the 2016 season.
In his first start this season, Ryu took the loss against the Colorado Rockies. He managed to go only 4 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on six hits in the 2-1 Rockies win.
Brett Anderson makes his Cubs’ Wrigley field debut against his former team. His opening game against the Brewers was impressive. Anderson allowed only one run on five hits, one walk, and struck out four over 5 2/3 innings. The Dodgers’ struggle against lefties is well documented, but the team is familiar with Anderson. Is that enough to curtail their struggles?
In the game last night, the Chicago Cubs hit into three momentum killing double plays. To make matters worse, the team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
It is a trend that must change in the future. The positive out of last night is the fact that Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist all saw 20 or more pitches. They battled and worked counts in their favor. That is the Cub way.
With the left-handed Ryu on the mound, manager Joe Maddon presents a right handed line-up.
There are a few changes worth noting. Anderson is batting ninth, the traditional spot for pitchers, but different for the Cubs.
Albert Almora Jr. who is hitting .556 in five games, moves up to the sixth spot, with Jason Heyward and Javier Baez to follow. Heyward is leading regular starter in batting average and has been on base in every game so far. Additionally, he has a hit in all but one game. It is definitely a surprise. A welcome one at that.
First pitch for the game is slated for 1:20 p.m. CT, and can be viewed on MLB Network. Two days of rain and cold weather continue to torment Wrigley Field, as today it is forecasted to be 52 degrees with a chance of showers all day. Maybe it will be warm enough for the bats to wake up.