For the first time in two years, the Cubs scored a run on Opening Day. They didn’t stop there by adding nine more on a rout of the Los Angeles Angels 9-0.
There was a sigh of relief that day when Dexter Fowler walked onto the practice field in Arizona. Cubs fans knew the reason and last night so did the Angels.
“He brings a lot of energy,” Maddon said. “He interacts with everybody so well. The guys like him. He’s a very likable guy and a good leadoff hitter. He’s the catalyst, there’s no question about that. Imagine the lineup without him tonight.”
I’m trying not to imagine that lineup. Jake Arrieta showed why he was the best last season with a performance that stunned the Angels by only allowing two hits over seven innings.
I think it takes a little while for teams to find their groove in this early season, but judging on how the Cubs performed last night, the groove is moving just fine.
“After the fourth, fifth, I knew he had it going again,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “Today, to be honest, was one of the games when we were the most in sync together. It was fun to catch him.”
Although nobody is expecting Arrieta to perform at the level he did last season, this year is going to prove even more crucial as he’s got live up to those numbers he put up last year. He won 22 freakin’ games! It’s a stunning achievement for anyone, but the key issue with Arrieta is that it wasn’t a fluke, he didn’t strike lightning in a bottle or it was that magic year for him. He won’t win 22 games this year but I’ve been wrong before. Last season was a performance for the ages. The no hitter against the Dodgers in August was incredible.
“Numbers-wise it’s tough to expect that, but I do, I still do,” Arrieta said of his own expectations. “I expect to pitch this way every time I take the mound. Once the ball leaves your hand, you can’t dictate the results. I expect to execute at a pretty high percentage.”
Once a pitcher nails his mechanics the way Jake learned last year, there’s no reason why he can’t duplicate his Cy Young winning season from last year. No way!
Now that the Opening Day jitters are over, the Cubs can allow themselves to concentrate on the pacing. I feel that April is the most important month on the calendar only because teams can’t allow themselves to fall too far behind in the standings. For the most part, if a team can come out of April intact and on a roll, then signs indicate that they’ll be in great shape come October.
“We’re tired of talking about how good we are,” David Ross said of the Cubs. “We are good. We know we’re good. We won 97 games last year. You still have to go out and prove it. We’re excited about the challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”