The Cubs got their 2019 season off to a strong start with a 12-4 victory over the Rangers on Opening Day. Jon Lester pitched a solid six innings, allowing four hits and two runs, to earn the victory in his eighth career Opening Day appearance.
Javy Baez kept the good times going from a year ago with two home runs, including a three-run dinger in a six-run fifth inning. Kris Bryant also hit his first home run of the season, and Anthony Rizzo reached base on four of his five plate appearances.
It was an encouraging all-around performance that puts the team on a good track this spring. Here’s how it went down at Globe Life Park.
Final score: Cubs 12, Rangers 4
Cubs 12, Rangers 4: And the pitching change did not work. Nomar Mazara goes deep off Mike Montgomery for a two-run dinger.
Cubs 12, Rangers 2: Joe Maddon oddly decides to pull Strop after he records two outs, so somebody else will wrap up this one. Sure, why not.
Cubs 12, Rangers 2: Pedro Strop will try to wrap up the game in his first appearance of the season.
Cubs 12, Rangers 2: The Cubs threatened to further add to their total after a double by Kyle Schwarber, but Albert Almora Jr. struck out to end the threat.
Eighth inning: Cubs 12, Rangers 2
Cubs 12, Rangers 2: No problems for Brach, who goes 1-2-3 including a strikeout of Jeff Mathis.
Cubs 12, Rangers 2: New relief pitcher Brian Brach is making his Cubs debut now. He’s getting a nice, low-stress assignment with a 10-run lead in hand.
Cubs 12, Rangers 2: There’s the Kris Bryant we’re hoping to see all year. The third baseman slammed a 426-foot homer to extend the lead to double-digits after Albert Almora’s second hit of the game.
Seventh inning: Cubs 10, Rangers 2
Cubs 10, Rangers 2: Jon Lester’s day comes to an end after the seventh-inning stretch. His final line: Four hits and two runs allowed with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings. Randy Rosario is on the mound now.
Cubs 10, Rangers 2: Jason Heyward knocks in a run but gets doubled up in the process, sucking some momentum from the Cubs’ sails. Still, they’re looking good up eight.
Cubs 9, Rangers 2: The Cubs are threatening again after a Willson Contreras walk, a David Bote double and a Ben Zobrist walk give them the bases loaded.
Cubs 9, Rangers 2: Right-hander Kyle Dowdy is in for the Rangers making his big league debut.
Sixth inning: Cubs 9, Rangers 2
Cubs 9, Rangers 2: Elvis Andrus got to Jon Lester again with a single for his third hit of the game but the Cubs lefty otherwise had no issues in the sixth inning.
Cubs 9, Rangers 2: Another Javier Baez homer would’ve been oh-so-sweet … but unfortunately the shortstop struck out to end the frame.
Cubs 9, Rangers 2: Anthony Rizzo walks for the third time in the game to knock in a run.
Cubs 8, Rangers 2: Kris Bryant walks to load the bases for Anthony Rizzo. Surely this will go well for the Rangers.
Cubs 8, Rangers 2: Albert Almora Jr. records his first RBI of the season with an infield single to extend the lead to six runs.
Cubs 7, Rangers 2: The Cubs chased Mike Minor from the game after getting runners on the corners with one out. Jesse Chavez, who pitched for the Cubs last year, is in for Texas.
Fifth inning: Cubs 7, Rangers 2
Cubs 7, Rangers 2: Nothing doing for the Rangers in the fifth inning. Delino DeShields drew a walk but Jon Lester got out of any potential jam.
Cubs 7, Rangers 2: JAVY!! AGAIN!!! Baez goes deep for the second time in the game, and this time with two runners on base. The Cubs are up to six runs in the fifth inning alone.
Cubs 4, Rangers 2: After Albert Almora Jr. strikes out, Kris Bryant knocks in Jason Heyward with a groundout to shortstop.
Cubs 3, Rangers 2: Mark Zagunis gets his first career RBI with a hard double up the middle. The Cubs have men on second and third with no outs.
Cubs 2, Rangers 2: Jason Heyward hits a grounder hard up the middle that Elvis Andrus isn’t able to corral in time to get the ball to second base for a force out. Bote scores on the play to tie it up.
Rangers 2, Cubs 1: After David Bote gets hit by a pitch, Ben Zobrist singles into the gap to give the Cubs runners on the corners with no outs. The North Siders have a good chance to tie the game or take the lead here.
Fourth inning: Rangers 2, Cubs 1
Rangers 2, Cubs 1: Jon Lester rebounds with a 1-2-3 inning. His fastball is sitting around 90-91 so far.
Rangers 2, Cubs 1: JAVY!!!! There’s the jolt the Cubs needed wth Javier Baez taking Mike Minor deep for his first homer and the Cubs’ first run of the season.
Third inning: Rangers 2, Cubs 0
Rangers 2, Cubs 0: Elvis Andrus continues his strong Opening Day with a two-run homer following a double from Rougned Odor.
Having him do it after walking up to “Baby Shark” doesn’t make it feel any better.
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: Albert Almora Jr. strikes out to end the Cubs’ frame.
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: Jason Hayward got his season off to a good start with a single in his first at-bat, but that good feeling didn’t last long when Mike Zagunis grounded into a double play.
Second inning: Cubs 0, Rangers 0
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: A nice catch by Anthony Rizzo on the foul side of the first base line helped Jon Lester respond with a brief inning of his own. The Cubs lefty is up to 29 pitches through two innings.
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: Mike Minor does quick work of the Cubs in the second, going 1-2-3 through Willson Contreras, David Bote and Ben Zobrist.
First inning: Cubs 0, Rangers 0
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: After a walk to Joey Gallo, Jon Lester got out of the jam by inducing a grounder from Hunter Pence.
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: Jon Lester’s first strikeout of the season came after a big swing-and-miss by Rougned Odor, but Elvis Andrus singles to get the Rangers onto the basepaths with two outs and Joey Gallo coming up.
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: A walk by Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs their first baserunner of the season, but Javier Baez hit a hard grounder to third for the final out. No runs for the Cubs in their first inning of 2019.
Cubs 0, Rangers 0: The first at-bat of the Cubs’ season is a deep fly out by Albert Almora Jr. Solid contact off the bat but no fireworks yet.
Before the game
Pre-season huddle. First pitch in two hours. pic.twitter.com/oktH1S95tY— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 28, 2019
Game 1 of 162 is here, Cubs fans. The team takes on the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday afternoon as part of MLB’s stacked 15-game Opening Day schedule. It’s the first of three consecutive road series to begin the year before the team returns to Wrigley Field for its home opener on April 8.
Jon Lester will take the mound for his fourth Opening Day start in five years with the Cubs. He didn’t have the best spring training with a 10.57 ERA in five starts, but that won’t matter much if he gets off to a strong start in his first real pitching appearance of the year. A year ago, Lester lasted less than four innings before he was pulled in the Cubs’ 8-4 Opening Day win over the Marlins.
The Rangers will be sending out another left-hander in Mike Minor, who’s making his first career Opening Day start. He battled back after years of injuries to have a solid 2018 season with Texas.
Rookie Mark Zagunis will be making his big league debut Thursday as the starting left fielder and No. 9 hitter in the batting order. Albert Almora Jr. is batting leadoff and David Bote is in at second base, which allows Ben Zobrist to fill the designated hitter spot. You can check out the full lineup here.
This post will be regularly updated once the game starts. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m. on WGN.
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