CHICAGO – The rain came down hard all afternoon in Chicago, and delayed the start of the Cubs 2017 home opener, and the festivities planned on the evening, that included the unveiling and raising of the 2016 World Series Championship banner in center field.
The rain this evening however, much like the night that it delayed Cubs fans seeing the Commissioner’s Trophy raised until nearly midnight during game seven of the 2016 Fall Classic, would subside so that the Cubs could commence the pregame festivities.
Cubs fans of all ages finally got to witness the moment that they had been waiting for all of their lives on Monday evening, a truly memorable experience for all of those involved with this championship team. After the festivities wrapped, the Cubs actually had a baseball game to play this evening, the first of the 2017 home schedule at Wrigley Field as they played host to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Joe Maddon‘s decision to save Jon Lester for game one against the Dodgers on Monday evening to match-up against a poor left-handed hitting lineup, of course turned out to be a wise one as Lester fired off six innings of one-run baseball. Lester allowed only four hits, while striking out seven and walking one during his 6.0 innings of work on Monday night, with the lone run surrendered coming in the form of an RBI double off of the bat of Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager in the sixth inning.
Lester even drove in the Cubs second run of the evening, scoring Addison Russell on a ground-out to Dodgers third-baseman Justin Turner, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead at the time. Kris Bryant‘s third inning RBI double that scored Kyle Schwarber gave the Cubs their first run of the evening, and the Cubs eventually took a 2-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Jon Jay stood at second base with one out, setting up a showdown between Kris Bryant and Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen. Jansen struck Bryant out for the second out of the inning, but Jay stole third base on the pitch, to put the winning run 90-feet away for Anthony Rizzo.
On a 1-1 count, Rizzo slapped a sharp line drive down the left field line to score Jay, and give the Cubs a walk-off victory on a cold Chicago night that saw the Cubbies raise their 2016 World Series Championship banner. A perfect ending to a special night in Wrigleyville on Monday.
Jon Lester: 6.0 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 7 K, 1 BB (ND)
Kris Bryant: 1-4: 2B, RBI, BB
Corey Seager: 1-4, RBI
Logan Forsythe: 2-5, R
Jon Lester turned in a solid performance on the evening, leaving the ballgame in line for the victory, but was saddled with a no-decision after Pedro Strop was unable to secure the lead during his appearance in the eighth inning.
Kris Bryant continued to heat up on Monday despite the brisk Chicago temperatures, opening the scoring in the third inning with an RBI double, and also drew a walk later in the ballgame.
The Cubs bullpen once again surrendered a late-innings lead on Monday night, when Pedro Strop allowed the Dodgers to tie the game in the top of the eighth inning. In both of the Cubs first two losses this season, it was the bullpen surrendering a late-innings lead, and eventually a walk-off victory to the opposition. More specifically both of those defeats came with Mike Montgomery on the mound, but the bullpen as a whole has been shaky in the early going this season.
The Cubs and the Dodgers will take Tuesday off before resuming their three game series on Wednesday evening. The Cubs will hold their ring ceremony before the game on Wednesday as well, drawing an end to the official 2016 World Series Championship festivities.
First Pitch: 7:05 pm (CT)
TV: ABC, MLB Network (Out of Market Only)