The Cubs look to build off their dominant effort in their season opener when they conclude a two-game series with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.
Carlos Zambrano got the opening day start with both Prior and Wood sidelined, and although he wasn’t effective, Chicago still came away with a 16-7 win over Cincinnati on Monday.
Zambrano allowed five runs and seven hits with five walks in 4 2-3 innings, but the Cubs scored five runs in the first inning, seven in the sixth and four in the ninth. Chicago also scored 16 runs on opening day last season in a victory over Arizona.
“It was better than we would’ve hoped,” said second baseman Todd Walker, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs Monday. “The only thing I can think of is that we did the same thing last year and dropped the next two to Arizona. This is a game you have to stay on top of every day. We have to come out Wednesday and work hard and get after them.”
Offseason addition Juan Pierre led off Monday’s game with a triple and went 3-for-6 with three runs and an RBI after batting just .222 in spring training for the Cubs.
“There’s a lot of things they were looking at me to come over here and do,” he said. “I know my spring training was slow, and guys were wondering why we got this guy.”
Glendon Rusch takes the mound for Chicago on Wednesday after going 9-8 with a 4.52 ERA in 46 appearances last season, including 19 starts. He will be opposed by Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who was acquired from Boston for outfielder Wily Mo Pena on March 20.
Arroyo, making his first National League start since the Red Sox acquired him off waivers from Pittsburgh before the 2003 season, went 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA in a career-high 205 1-3 innings last year. He is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA in five appearances against the Cubs.
Arroyo, who figured to start the season in Boston’s bullpen but is now the No. 2 man in Cincinnati’s rotation, said he was disappointed to leave the Red Sox.
“The first few days were rough, definitely rough,” he said. “(But) once you get in a game and start playing with the guys, you get used to everyone around you and the personalities.”
The Reds’ ownership change to Bob Castellini has provided optimism in Cincinnati’s locker room as the Reds try to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1995, and one loss isn’t going to temper the players’ enthusiasm.
“If you want to say we’re going to go out and stink up the season, go ahead, but it’s not going to ruin my season,” said Adam Dunn, who homered Monday for the 22nd time in 68 games against the Cubs. “If you want me to say we’re going to go 0-162, I’m not going to do that. I’m not writing off my season because of opening day.”
Cincinnati begins a four-game series at home with Pittsburgh on Thursday, while Chicago meets St. Louis in its home opener on Friday afternoon.