The Natural kicked off the Cubs’ season at Wrigley Field. Robert Redford, the iconic actor who played the lead role in the most iconic baseball movie ever, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday.
And that’s where the good vibes ended for the North Siders, as the Cubs then went out and lost. To the sad-sack Pirates, who Pop Fisher would’ve gotten so sick of managing, he’d have gone back to farming.
No word if Redford threw a strike.
Though this is certain: Ryan Dempster threw too many. The Cubs No. 1 starter was hit around for six runs on six hits before leaving after 6.2 innings. He gave up two home runs, including a grand slam by Neil Walker — who is better known around here as Don Kelly’s brother-in-law.
Andrew McCuthcen also went deep off Dempster.
Turns out, the Pirates’ batboy must’ve been picking out some winners.
Other Opening Day II highlights/lowlights:
- Ex-Tiger Brandon Lyon, who was a rock down the stretch for the Astros last season — saving 19 games after July 31, the most in the majors — was rocked in his 2011 debut, as he blew a two-run lead in a loss to the Phillies.The highlight of that game for me wasn’t the winning hit, though, but rather Astros catcher Humberto Quintero’s rocket to second base to catch Shane Victorino trying to steal. Victorino had a great jump, so Quintero threw from his knees — and fired a perfect strike. Even Brett Myers walked off the field that inning saying, “Wow.”It really was Pudge-in-his-prime-like.
- Kirk Gibson won his first game managing on Opening Day. The D-backs beat the Rockies on an 11th-inning wild pitch, putting Arizona in first place. Enjoy that while it lasts, cuz it won’t last longer than, say, 20 hours.
- In his White Sox debut, Adam Dunn homered. He also had four RBIs. Carlos Quentin had five (he also homered). Chicago scored 15 times against the Indians, despite striking out 14 times. A win’s a win.
- David Ortiz homered on Opening Day for the Red Sox, meaning we all can at least wait until the second day of the season to ask him if he’s washed up.
- Twins “ace” Carl Pavano has given up eight runs, and he’s still pitching against the Jays. Hey, you can’t face the Tigers every day.
- We’ve already had our first no-hit advisory of the season, by Marlins ace Josh Johnson. His bid to kick off Year of the Pitcher, Part Deux, was spoiled by the Mets’ Willie Harris, who doubled leading off the seventh. I had suspected Johnson also would get credit for the first balk of the season, but looks like Jordan Smith of the Reds took care of that yesterday.