Cubs: Kosuku Fukudome to the rescue on Opening Day
Our number four debut is fun. Cubs fans had something to look forward to after the club signed phenom free agent Kosuke Fukudome before the 2008 season. On a blustery Opening Day in Wrigley on March 31, 2008, the Cubs and Brewers were in a scoreless stalemate heading into the final inning.
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The day’s starters, Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs and Ben Sheets for the Brewers found themselves in a pitchers duel before the respective bullpens took over. In the second inning, his debut at-bat in a Cubs uniform, Fukudome sent a screamer to deep center field for a double. A rousing start for the Japanese star.
He walked in his next at-bat and followed it with a single in his third at-bat of the day: three plate appearances, three times on base. In the ninth, the Brewers took the lead off Kerry Wood, who surrendered three runs on a couple of hits and a hit-by-pitch.
In the bottom half of the ninth, Fukudome was due up third. Anticipation hung in the air. Following a single from Derrek Lee and a walk to Aramis Ramirez, Fukudome stepped to the dish. Gagne made a mistake on a 3-1 count and Fukudome sent the crowd into a frenzy with a game-tying home run.
The Cubs would lose in extra innings, but the debut of Fukudome dominated the day. Earning an all-star nod in the 2008 season, Fukudome did not amount to what the Cubs had hoped when they signed him. The home run and debut performance are still one talked about to this day.