CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — In the third-coldest coldest opener in Cubs history, the Cubs’ bats on Thursday were almost as cold as the temperatures.
The Cubs lost 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.READ MORE: Jordan Hassell Charged With Making Multiple Social Media Threats Targeting Chicago Public Schools
Their pitchers weren’t doing much better, but Kyle Hendricks wouldn’t blame the temps for his struggles. He lasted just three innings in his second straight opening-day start.
“It was more myself,” Hendricks said. “I was in a bad position. Fighting it.”
The game time temperature at Wrigley Field was 36 degrees, and the flags at the iconic ballpark rippled in the breeze for much of the sunny afternoon.
A crowd of 10,343 dressed in winter jackets, hooded sweatshirts and hats for the return of fans to Wrigley after they were kept out last summer because of the pandemic.
Anthony Rizzo, Joc Pederson and Willson Contreras each hit a sacrifice fly, but that was it for the reigning NL Central champions. Rizzo doubled in the first against Chad Kuhl and Eric Sogard added another double in the eighth for the team’s only hits.
Pederson walked with one out in the ninth and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Rodríguez struck out Javier Báez and Jason Heyward to end the game.
It was an ugly opener for a Cubs team looking for a fast start to a season shadowed by uncertainty. Rizzo, Báez and Kris Bryant — three key sluggers from the franchise’s historic 2016 World Series championship — are eligible for free agency after this year.
Henrdicks issued three walks while allowing three runs and four hits after he walked eight in 81 1/3 innings last season.
“I was just in a bad position and fighting it,” Hendricks said. “We’re out there moving, so I was warm, but I really made it tough on the position players by just long innings, long counts, a lot of three-ball counts, a lot of walks. So they were standing out there getting cold. It was just bad all around. Set a bad tone. Just can’t let that happen again.”
Kyle Hendricks not blaming the cold for his rough opening day start: "It was more myself. I was in a bad position. Fighting it." Says he thinks it will only take a "small adjustment." #Cubs @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/uXR96tNzZUREAD MORE: COVID-19 In Illinois: Case Count Declines For 3rd Consecutive Week; Infection Rate Lowest Since July
— Matt Zahn (@mattzahnsports) April 1, 2021
Hendricks (0-1) wasn’t the only one with control problems. The Cubs finished with 11 walks and hit a batter during the 4-hour game.
“I think that’s the tough thing to watch — 12 free passes with the hit batter,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Especially (on) a cold day at Wrigley Field, the walks are gonna hurt you.”
For the Pirates, Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a two-run homer and their relievers dominated in a two-hitter.
Pittsburgh went 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position and left 15 runners on base. But it handled the cool conditions just a little bit better than Chicago, led by its largely anonymous bullpen.
Six relievers combined for six innings of one-run ball — Duane Underwood Jr., Clay Holmes, Sam Howard (1-0), David Bednar and Chris Stratton each worked an inning before Richard Rodríguez finished for the save.
“They did a nice job,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “They kind of all just fed off each other.”
Jake Arrieta begins his second stint in Chicago when the series resumes on Saturday, and Tyler Anderson gets the ball for Pittsburgh. Arrieta, of course, played for Cubs for five years, winning a Cy Young Award and the World Series, before signing with Philadelphia in March 2018. The right-hander returned to the Cubs in February for a $6 million, one-year contract. Anderson is making his Pirates debut after the lefty signed with the team in free agency.MORE NEWS: Obamas Return To Chicago For Groundbreaking Of Presidential Center Tuesday
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