Cubs

Rizzo, Cubs break out the long ball in 6-1 victory over Angels

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Rizzo, Cubs break out the long ball in 6-1 victory over Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Last season, Jon Lester brought to the Chicago Cubs an impressive resume that included the two World Series rings he won with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013.

Now he is trying to help lead the team with baseball's longest championship drought to its first pennant since 1945.

Lester pitched seven strong innings in his season debut and the Cubs got home runs from Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler and Matt Szczur in a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

"I don't like to compare other situations and other rosters and all that stuff," Lester said. "But I like our talent and our lineup because it's deep. So if you want to take one similarity from it, I guess it's that our lineup makes pitchers work and has good, quality at-bats."

Lester (1-0) threw 93 pitches, allowing a run and four hits. The three-time All-Star, who broke Ken Holtzman's 1970 franchise record for strikeouts by a left-hander with 207 last season, fanned four and walked none in his 12th career start against the Angels.

[BOX SCORE: Cubs 6, Angels 1]

Lester is in the second season of a $155 million, six-year contract. Last year, his first in the National League, he was 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts.

"Physically and mentally, I'm light years ahead of where I was last year at this point," Lester said. "Obviously, I'm in a better place coming into the season because there's no limitations, as far as pitch counts.

"Last year was just so different," he added. "There was a lot of hype involved around myself and expectations for myself. So you try to go out there the first start and try to live up to those expectations all at once, as opposed to just letting the season play out."

Angels starter Andrew Heaney (0-1) gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Heaney retired the side in order on 14 pitches in the first, but left the mound with a bloody nose after throwing his first pitch of the second inning to Rizzo. Heaney got checked out in the dugout by trainer Adam Nevala, then was allowed to take a few warmups before continuing with gauze in his left nostril.

"I just got a little bit of a bloody nose, threw a pitch and it spewed down my shirt," Heaney said. "Then I got it on my other sleeve and down my arm, so I figured I should probably say something."

Szczur, who hit a three-run double in the ninth inning of the Cubs' season-opening 9-0 win Monday night after entering the game as a defensive replacement, drove Heaney's first pitch of the third over the double-decker bullpen in left to ignite a four-run rally.

Another run came in on a fielder's choice grounder by Jason Heyward, and Rizzo drove in two more with his homer to center field. Rizzo is coming off back-to-back seasons with 30 or more home runs -- the first left-handed hitter in franchise history to record multiple 30-homer campaigns.

Fowler made it 6-1 in the seventh, hitting a 3-0 pitch from Mike Morin for a two-run shot to right, his first homer in 40 career at-bats at Angel Stadium.

This is the first time the Cubs have started a season 2-0 since 1995. They have won their last 11 regular-season road games.

HOOPS HANGOVER

Szczur made his first start of the season in left field -- one day after his alma mater, Villanova, won the NCAA men's basketball championship on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins.

"Villanova won the national championship, so I thought he was a good bet today," manager Joe Maddon said. "I just thought it was like absolutely poetic justice, wasn't it? They won, then he comes up and gets that hit -- pretty good night for the `Cats."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: RHP Jered Weaver, whose streak of six consecutive opening day starts ended on Monday night because of nerve problems in his neck and shoulder, threw about 60 pitches during a four-inning simulated game.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP John Lackey makes his debut with Chicago on Thursday night against Arizona RHP Rubby De La Rosa in the opener of a four-game series at Chase Field.

Angels: LHP Hector Santiago opposes LHP Derek Holland in the opener of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers at the Big A.

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...