Cubs issue 11 walks in loss to Pirates at Wrigley Field

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Maddie Lee
·2 min read
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Walks plague Cubs pitchers in Opening Day loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Almost every Cubs pitcher who took the mound Thursday contributed to a soaring walk total.

The Cubs reached deep into the bullpen to finish a 5-3 loss to the Pirates in 37-degree weather on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

“You’ve got to fill up the zone,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Especially a cold day at Wrigley Field, the walks are going to hurt you.”

In all, eight Cubs pitchers combined for 11 walks. Alec Mills was the only one who didn’t issue a free pass. Thursday’s pitching performance stood in stark contrast to Kyle Hendricks’ last Opening Day start – a complete game shutout.

This year, Hendricks started the trend of walking the leadoff man, putting Adam Frazier on base in his first six pitches. Then, Pirates rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes showed how dangerous that move could be. Hayes mashed a two-run homer off Hendricks to give Pittsburgh a lead two batters into the game.

Hendricks dismissed the idea that the weather might have contributed to his struggles.

“Command-wise, really starting with the fastball, was terrible,” Hendricks said. “And leadoff walks, just leadoff guys in general getting on base, set a terrible tone for the group.”

The pattern continued. Cubs pitchers began six of nine frames with a leadoff walk. Half of those leadoff men scored.

It took until the seventh for a Cubs pitcher to record an out to start the inning. Dan Winkler accomplished the feat, striking out Jacob Stallings.

Only two relievers on the Cubs’ active roster didn’t appear in the game: right-hander Dillon Maples and closer Craig Kimbrel.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in this one, but it counts,” Ross said. “It counts now, and you want to win them all.”

The Cubs offense, in turn, recorded just two hits. The three runs they scored all came on sacrifice flies.

Related: Observations: Cubs drop opener, bats cold on frigid day

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