The Rundown: Steele’s Injury Worst Part of Opening Day Loss, Baseball Happens, D-Backs Crush Rockies, O’Neill Sets Record

“Low brow, but I rock a little know-how. No time for the piggies or the hoosegow.” – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Give it Away

The defending champs are 1-0 but the Cubs were inches away from wrecking their coronation in last night’s 4-3 loss. Sure, watching Chicago’s bullpen struggle to hold a lead for what seems like the seventh consecutive season is gut-wrenching, but it’s not nearly as hurtful as watching Justin Steele leave with a hamstring injury. Steele was pitching like the ace Craig Counsell is counting on until the big lefty hurt himself on a squibbler to the first base side.

Speaking of Counsell, he was supposed to be the cheat code in games decided by a single run. That wasn’t the case last night though, was it? Fans bailed on social media several times during the game with positive and negative superlatives posting at a record pace depending on the game situation. To that I have but three things to say.

  1. Everybody relax.
  2. It was just one game.
  3. Baseball happens.

The Cubs are projected to lose about 75-77 games this year, and last night’s disappointing effort earned one of them. Steele’s health is the bigger concern, however, and Counsell already indicated that Chicago’s ace is “going to miss a little time.” I hope Ben Brown or Hayden Wesneski did not fully unpack because one of them could be headed to Texas or Chicago this weekend. In the meantime, chill out Honey Bunny, we’re all going to keep our cool.

The Cubs and Rangers get their obligatory day off today, so it’s a lot easier to move on. Kyle Hendricks gets the start against Cody Bradford on Saturday with a chance to even the series. Jordan Wicks will take the bump against Jon Gray in the series finale, and all will be well if the Cubs leave Texas on Easter Sunday with two straight wins. It’s just one game and Steele will heal, so let’s not lose our minds.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

For those keeping score at home, Manny Machado is not Bo Jackson.

Climbing The Ladder

“Just one look and I fell so hard, hard, hard.” – Doris Troy, Just One Look

Christopher Morel was 2-for-5 as Chicago’s DH and legged out an impressive triple in the 2nd inning. He immediately scored on a sacrifice fly by Dansby Swanson. Morel also crushed a pitch from David Robertson with the bases loaded in the top of the 10th that might have won the game. The ball went into the upper deck in left field but was just barely foul. Cody Bellinger also drove in a run with a 6th-inning double.

Adbert Alzolay blew just three saves last year but was saddled with one last night. On the flip side, Héctor Neris and Mark Leiter Jr. had very good outings. Alzolay should have plenty of leeway as the team’s closer, but Neris could push him.

  • Games Played: 1
  • Record: 0-1
  • Total Plate Appearances: 40
  • Total Strikeouts: 8
  • Strikeout Rate: 20%
  • Team Batting Average: .182
  • Runs Scored: 3
  • Runs Allowed: 4
  • Pythagorean Record: 0-1
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 71.5%, 4% chance to win World Series 

A Tale of Two Managers

ESPN compared Counsell to David Ross last night, but they left out a key detail. If you remember, Ross says, “I think…” about every third sentence, while Counsell precisely measures his words, speaks very matter-of-factly, and rarely uses prepositions or transitional phrases.

Central Intelligence

How About That!

The Diamondbacks began defense of their NL pennant with the most impressive inning of offense on Opening Day since, well, ever. Their 14-run outburst in the bottom of the 3rd is an Opening Day record, the first inning with 10 runs in an inaugural game since the Padres in 1997 and, also, just the fifth 14-run inning in any game of the divisional era (since 1969). Arizona did it with 13 hits — none of them home runs — including a whopping 10 singles.

Juan Soto threw a strike to catcher José Trevino to nail Mauricio Dubón at the plate, giving the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Astros.

New York owner Hal Steinbrenner badly wanted to sign Jordan Montgomery, but the two sides never got anywhere near an agreement.

The Shohei Ohtani mess is a byproduct of Rob Manfred’s fascination with comingling baseball and gambling sites, according to Phil Mushnick of the NY Post.

The Angels look much worse without Ohtani, but he wouldn’t have pitched this year. Patrick Sandoval gave up five earned runs to the Orioles though he registered just five outs in his start.

Manfred hopes the league’s investigation into Ohtani will be short while assuring fans who question the integrity of the game that due diligence was thorough and complete.

Fans in Oakland boycotted the A’s home opener ahead of the team’s pending move to Las Vegas. The announced attendance was 13,522, but that seemed overstated.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Tyler O’Neill – The Red Sox right fielder was only 1-for-3, but that one hit was historic. O’Neill slugged a home run on Opening Day for the fifth consecutive year, a new league record.
  2. Corbin Burnes – Baltimore’s new ace was typically filthy, notching 11 strikeouts in six full frames. Burnes allowed just one hit, a home run to Mike Trout, and didn’t walk a batter. The Orioles clobbered the Angels 11-3 in Baltimore.
  3. Bieber – Now that Steele is hurt, it sure would have been nice to have traded for Bieber, a pending free agent. He also struck out 11 batters in six, four-hit innings, leading the Guardians to an 8-0 win over the Athletics.

Extra Innings

Morel is faster than a speeding bullet.

They Said It

  • “You’re thinking it’s just a shame. [Steele] was pitching really, really well. Obviously, an important member of the team. It looks like we’re going to miss him for a little bit here.” – Counsell
  • “We all realize how close we were last year and one game away and you could see what happens with that one game.” – Steele
  • “There’s a real value in how Justin simplifies the game. He creates conviction for himself and doesn’t allow a lot of outside noise into his equation out there and that works. Sometimes we think, ‘Oh, that’s easy to do,’ but it’s not that easy to do.” – Counsell

Friday Walk-Up Song

Moving on from a Game 1 loss…” at worst I feel bad for a while, and then I just smile.”

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