The Last Monday Before it Begins
This will be the last game that I watch before opening night on Sunday so I thought I’d write the morning article while I watch the game and see what thoughts pop out and share them spontaneously.
The first thing I notice is the starting lineup of RF Schwarber, 3B Bryant, 1B Rizzo, 2B Baez, C Contreras, LF Happ, CF Almora, P Lester, SS Young.
While the opening day lineup will also contain SS Addison Russell, 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, and OF Jason Heyward, I would guess that 95% of the rest of the teams would take tonight’s starting lineup as their regular roster.
What went through my mind is, “pretty nice little lineup” which of course reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Old School which I have linked for your amusement. In the clip, Frank (Will Farrell) tries to avoid the peer pressure put on him at a frat party.
Interestingly, Schwarber is in right field and I believe I have read that Maddon plans to use him in right on occasion depending on the ballpark, with perhaps Pittsburgh being an example of a optimal right field for Kyle. Thoughts on this idea? I think I lean toward the side that would prefer that Schwarber get comfortable at one position.
Let’s enjoy the game together.
- Top 1st – First inning starts with a Schwarber strike out then Bryant goes the opposite way for a double. I love his easy power to the opposite side. Oh look, Rizzo is up with an RBI opportunity in the first inning, that is going to occur A LOT this year. Indians pitcher Danny Salazar strikes out Rizzo and gets Baez to ground out to end the inning. For those of you that play fantasy baseball, I like Salazar as a mid to late round starter.
This is Lester’s last start before opening day and I’m hoping for five or six easy innings. Want another sign that spring training results don’t mean anything? The Cubs are batting their pitcher and the Indians are using a DH.
- Bottom 1st – Lester starts the first getting Ramirez to ground out and then strikes out Lindor. First pitch popup by Santana ends the inning quickly.
- 2nd – I really like Ian Happ. I hope the Cubs find a way to keep him in the organization long-term. Happ walks and Almora singles to put pressure on the Indians again. However, Salazar strikes out Lester and Young. This continual pressure will wear down the pitchers quickly throughout the season. The Indians inning starts with a lead-off double from Encarnacion. What a great pickup for the Indians. Shallow fly ball to right by Guyer shows Schwarber’s limitations (coming in on shallow fly balls) and the Indians have them on the corner with nobody out. So much for an easy outing for Jon. Maybe a stressful outing is good for you?? Indians 3, Cubs 0.
- 3rd – Salazar looking good. Lester settles back down. Indians 3, Cubs 0.
- 4th – Willson hits his fourth of the spring though I think as far as he hit it, it should have counted for two. Happ will need to work hard on the off-speed stuff this year. Indians 3, Cubs 1.
- 5th – Lightning has started off in the distance. Any rain delay will end the post. It’s really hard to focus when the games don’t count. As long as everyone stays healthy, it’s a victory to me (and I’m not just saying that because Almonte hits a homer increasing the Indians lead). Indians 4, Cubs 1.
- 6th – Willson! Willson! Willson! Lester drives in a run but Schwarber strikes out leaving two runners on. Lester finishes strong striking out Encarnacion and Guyer. Indians 4, Cubs 3.
- 7th – News flash, Andrew Miller is really good. Another news flash, Almora is really good in the outfield as he runs down a long fly ball to help Hector Rondon. Wade Davis replaces Rondon to get the final out of the inning. Looks like a scheduled replacement, no injury or struggles for Rondon. Indians 4, Cubs 3.
- 8th – Quiet inning as the Cubs go down in order and the Indians get one hit around a strikeout and two fly outs from Pedro Strop. Indians 4, Cubs 3.
- 9th – Last chance for the Cubs and the bus must already be warmed up because they go down in order to drop the game to the Indians 3-4. Good news is that the Cubs still won game seven of the World Series even though they went 0-2-1 against the Indians this preseason and good news is that we’re one day closer to opening day.
Elsewhere around the league on Monday:
- Giants workhorse, Madison Bumgarner, went seven strong innings against Cincinnati to show that he is ready to start the season.
- Nationals outfielder, and future New York Yankee, Bryce Harper hit his league leading seventh and eighth home runs against the Mets.
- Lots of discussion about Yadier Molina and his deadline to have an extension done before opening day or the threat that he will become a free agent at the end of the season. An interesting series of tweets from Jon Heyman claiming that he should be the highest paid catcher per season. I certainly would pay Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy way more than Yadier, but to each his own. Sounds like the two sides are making progress toward a deal. I hope the Cards overpay for about four years.
- Former Cub, Jorge Soler, was diagnosed with a Grade 1 oblique strain (for the non-medics, Grade 1 is less severe than higher grades). This news is unsurprising to any Cub fan. I wish Soler the best in Kansas City and hope this is just a minor setback.
- Finally, not sure your feelings on Tim Tebow getting a lot of attention for being a 29 year old former football player trying to play baseball. My take is that if he wasn’t Tim Tebow, he wouldn’t get an opportunity at all and even if he did, there would obviously be no attention his way. For those in that camp, enjoy this clip from MLB.com as he faces Nationals ace Max Scherzer.