Instead of a sellout crowd of 41,649 watching the Chicago Cubs’ 3-0 victory at Wrigley Field over the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day, Kyle Hendricks dazzled Cubs fans from afar Friday evening.
Posting a 2.04 ERA at home last season, Hendricks continued his hometown dominance over the Brewers in his first start of the season. Hendricks struck out nine batters and was extremely efficient, throwing 103 pitches through nine innings.
While some have worried about the durability of starting pitchers to begin the season, Hendricks calmed those concerns with an impressive performance and showed no signs of fatigue all evening. For the Cubs, who do not have an off night for 17 days, the Chicago bullpen appreciated the rest Hendricks provided.
For both teams, it was the night of the No. 9 hitter. Ian Happ created the sole offense for the Cubs with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. After ending the 2019 season as NL Player of the Week, Happ picked off right where he left off with a 422-foot shot off Brandon Woodruff.
The Brewers only managed three hits off Hendricks, which all came from No. 9 hitter Orlando Arcia, who went three-for-three.
Although he went hitless, the Kris Bryant lead-off experiment seemed to pay off for rookie manager David Ross. In his first two at-bats, Bryant went to a full count and saw over 20 pitches from Woodruff.
Anthony Rizzo added a solo shot in the bottom of the eight, which provided a bit of insurance for the Cubs, who have struggled closing games in the last few years.
MVP Christian Yelich was quiet on Opening Day, going hitless with two strikeouts provided by Kyle Hendricks. Although Yelich should have no issue getting going, a 60-game season creates panic much sooner than there would normally be after one game.
In the odd COVID-19-inspired season, Anthony Rizzo handed out hand sanitizer to Orlando Arcia at first base. Viewers could hear almost everything the players yelled on and off the field.
Whether the game looked or sounded different, the Cubs and Brewers showed that the product on the field will still be what fans expected and what fans need. Strikeouts and home runs still look the same, even if fans have to watch from home.