Kosuke Fukudome captivated the crowd at Wrigley Field during his major league debut. Now, he wants to experience a win.
Fukudome went 3-for-3 on Monday in the Cubs’ 4-3 loss in 10 innings. He doubled on the first pitch he saw, and added a single before hitting a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Brewers closer Eric Gagne.
“It was a pretty good day for me, but we lost the game,” Fukudome said through a translator.
The right fielder was approached by several teams during the offseason after he chose not to return to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese League following nine seasons in which he hit .305. The Cubs signed him to a $48 million, four-year contract hoping he can add some offensive punch to a team that is trying to win its first World Series in 100 years.
Brewers manager Ned Yost told the Cubs’ official Web site that it may take some time for pitchers to get the best of Fukudome.
“We still don’t have that kid figured out,” he said. “We thought we did, a little bit, but he changed his approach today compared to the times we saw him in Spring Training. He was a different hitter today. We kind of have to go back to the drawing board on this guy.”
The Brewers will send Jeff Suppan (12-12, 4.62 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander pitched a team-high 206 2-3 innings last season, but overall was disappointing in his first year in Milwaukee after going 44-26 with a 3.95 ERA in three seasons with St. Louis, where he helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006.
Suppan won five of his first seven starts last year, but struggled with consistency for most of the season until going 4-1 in his final six starts in September.
He was 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last season, including 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts at Wrigley. He’s 5-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 16 career starts against Chicago.
The Cubs will counter with Ted Lilly (15-8, 3.83), who is looking to prove his first season in Chicago wasn’t an anomaly.
Lilly matched a career-high in wins and his ERA was the lowest since 2002. Playing with the New York Yankees and Oakland, Lilly had a 3.69 ERA, but was just 5-7.
The left-hander was 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against the Brewers last season, going more than five innings against them just once.
Prince Fielder was 3-for-7 (.429) last season against Lilly with a double and two strikeouts. The first baseman, who led the NL with a franchise-best 50 homers last season, had one hit and scored on Monday despite battling the flu, according to the Brewers’ official Web site.