MLB Baseball

5
Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Pittsburgh2 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 592
Chi Cubs1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 320
3
  W: S. Howard (1-0)   L: K. Hendricks (0-1)   S: R. Rodríguez (1)
11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE12:20 PM CT, April 1, 2021
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois  Attendance: 10,343

Cubs set to host Pirates, fans for Opening Day at Wrigley

According to STATS
According to STATS

Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs

  1. This will mark the third time in the last 11 years that the Cubs and Pirates will square off on April Fool's Day, with the Pirates having won at Wrigley in 2011 and the Cubs returning the favor in Pittsburgh two years later. This is the fifth straight season in which the Bucs are opening on the road.
  2. The Cubs enter 2021 having won three consecutive season openers. With a victory on Thursday, the North Siders would match their longest streak of season-opening wins in the last 60 years; they won four consecutive openers from 2003 through '06.
  3. The Cubs went 19-14 at home last season; they started 8-1 and were 11-13 in their last 24 games at Wrigley Field. The Pirates won only 19 games total'; their .317 winning percentage (19-41) was the lowest for the franchise since 1952 (.273).
  4. Three Cubs ranked among the NL's bottom 11 in batting average among qualifiers last season. Kyle Schwarber (now with Washington) hit an NL-low .188, Javier Baez had the fifth-lowest mark at .203, and Anthony Rizzo ranked 11th lowest with a .222 average.
  5. Ke'Bryan Hayes made his MLB debut on September 1 of last season and hit .376 with a 1.124 OPS in September. Based on a minimum of 50 plate appearances, he ranked fifth in the majors in batting average and sixth in OPS for the month.
  6. Since 2018, Kyle Hendricks has a 2.79 ERA in nine starts versus Pittsburgh -- but his record is only 2-6. Chad Kuhl's career record against the Cubs is also 2-6, though that mark comes with a 5.82 ERA.
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 4/1/2021 thru 4/4/2021

Several key mainstays of the Chicago Cubs could be making their final Opening Day appearance for the team in Thursday's matchup with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are each beginning their free-agent walk years and would like nothing more than to revisit the joy of five years ago, when the trio helped the franchise claim its first World Series title since 1908.

While Chicago is expected to battle Milwaukee and St. Louis for the top spot in the National League Central, Pittsburgh faces an uphill battle in the competitive division. The Pirates finished last year's shortened campaign with the majors' worst record at 19-41 and are clearly in rebuilding mode after losing Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove, Chris Archer and Jameson Taillon during the offseason.

One reason for optimism for Pittsburgh is third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, a top NL Rookie of the Year candidate. The 24-year-old hit .376 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 24 games last season and continued to impress with a .429 average in 16 spring training games.

"If you watch him on a day-to-day basis, you'd be shocked that this guy's played 24 games in the big leagues," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

Pittsburgh's unproven rotation is led by 28-year-old Chad Kuhl, who is set to make his first career Opening Day start. The Delaware native is 2-6 with a 5.82 ERA in 12 career games (11 starts) against Chicago and has struggled to contain Rizzo, who is 8-for-24 with two homers against the right-hander.

Kyle Hendricks is making his second consecutive Opening Day start for the Cubs after posting a 2.88 ERA with 64 strikeouts and eight walks in 81 1/3 innings over 12 starts last season. The 31-year-old is hoping to duplicate his success from last season's opener, when he recorded a three-hit shutout against Milwaukee on July 24.

After playing in front of cardboard cutouts last season, both teams are eager to welcome fans back on Opening Day. Wrigley Field will a limited-capacity crowd, which Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last week would be expanded from 20 to 25 percent, which would mean about 10,000 fans in the park ... plus, of course, fans on the rooftops.

"It's going to be awesome," said Hendricks, who is 6-8 with a 3.02 ERA in 19 career starts against the Pirates. "To have the fans back in there, it's been such a big hit not having them. So, we really realize why we play the game, and to be able to have them and that energy they bring every single day, it's going to be so much fun."

Chicago had a relatively quiet spring training but made news last week when manager David Ross named David Bote as the team's starting second baseman ahead of Nico Hoerner, who was optioned to Triple-A.

Hoerner remains a prominent part of the Cubs' plans, but Ross says he is excited to see what the Bote can do as an everyday starter. Bote, who turns 28 next week, earned the job after hitting .311 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 19 spring-training games.

The Pirates are similarly eager to learn more about starting center fielder Anthony Alford, who arrived in a trade from Toronto late last season. The 26-year-old hit .265 with two home runs in 13 games this spring and appears fully recovered from last September's right elbow surgery.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 30, 2021

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