Cubs

Why Cubs-Red Sox opener at Wrigley felt so familiar

Cubs

David Ross and one-time teammate Xander Bogaerts shared a long bear hug outside the Cubs' dugout before Friday's Red Sox-Cubs series opener at Wrigley Field.

Later, Ross reconnected with another former teammate, Red Sox manager Alex Cora, as Boston was set to play its first game at Wrigley in a decade.

For a few, including Ross, there was familiarity.

"This is one on the calendar you see early on that you're excited about," Ross said pregame.

Even with the two new video boards standing at the Friendly Confines and no one remaining on either roster, perhaps the most familiar feeling of all is the Cubs are in the same spot as that 2012 series: rebuilding. 

The Red Sox, who struggled in 2012 but won the 2013 World Series, are in a similar position now as an ascending team.

Friday's series opener played out similarly as that June 15, 2012 game at Clark and Addison. The Cubs won 6-5 Friday in a comeback victory, erasing a 4-0 deficit.

“It was a real nice job of keeping our composure. They kind of punched us in the face early on," Ross said of the Red Sox taking a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

"The crowd had a lot of Red Sox fans out there. It was nice to feel that a little bit.”

Willson Contreras — the Cubs' top trade chip this season — played a key role Friday, drawing three walks and scoring a pair of runs, including the go-ahead tally on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.

 

In that series opener a decade ago, Ryan Dempster shut down the Red Sox with seven shutout innings in a 3-0 Cubs win.

The Cubs dealt Dempster, their top trade chip in 2012, to the Rangers for then-prospect Kyle Hendricks a month later.

What the future holds for Contreras, the Cubs' top trade chip this season, remains to be seen.

The Cubs have been closely associated with the Red Sox under the Ricketts family ownership as two historical big market teams with the oldest ballparks in baseball. In fact, when the Cubs began modernizing Wrigley Field, they consulted Boston on how they renovated Fenway Park.

“You understand that big market and the history they have and a lot of the things that we're doing here probably are very similar to how they've gone about their business,” Ross said of the Red Sox pregame

The associations go further. Cubs coaches Mike Napoli and Tommy Hottovy played for the Red Sox. Former Cubs coach Will Venable is now Cora's bench coach.

Former Cubs playoff starter Rich Hill took the mound for Boston Friday, tossing 4 2/3 solid innings before exiting with a left knee sprain.

On this Friday on the North Side, the familiarity was plentiful.

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