8/5 The kids can play
Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were both operating on little sleep and lots of adrenaline Sunday in their first Major League game, and at times, it was hard to breathe.
“I’ve just been soaking it in,” said Jackson, the Cubs’ newest center fielder. “I was thrown into the game and was in game mode all day. I’m sure it will sink in more tonight. I caught myself laughing a couple times — ‘You’ve got to be kidding me right now.’ It’s a pretty indescribable feeling, inspiring. I look forward to the days and hopefully years to come.”
Unfortunately, the two couldn’t celebrate their first day in the big leagues with a win. Hanley Ramirez hit a walk-off RBI single with one out in the ninth inning to power the Dodgers to a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Cubs and complete a sweep to keep pace with the Giants in the National League West.
Rookie Anthony Rizzo forced the late-inning drama by hitting a game-tying home run leading off the ninth. It was the rookie’s ninth home run and his third RBI of the game. But the highlight was the arrival of Jackson and Vitters, both No. 1 Draft picks, both top prospects, and both eager to show what they can do.
“The kids did pretty good,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Jackson batted second and grounded out in his first at-bat in the first, then walked in the third, and singled in the fifth for his first Major League hit. He also singled in the seventh off a lefty, and scored on Alfonso Soriano’s two-run double in the seventh, doing a barrel-roll into catcher A.J. Ellis at home. His day ended when he struck out in the eighth to strand two.
Vitters made his debut in the seventh as a pinch-hitter and flied out to left. The Cubs are in full rebuild mode. They now have 11 players on the 25-man roster who were not with the team on Opening Day.
“These guys have bat speed, they’ve got hand speed,” Sveum said of Jackson, Vitters and Rizzo, who made his Cubs debut June 26. “These are the things you want to see at the big league level and how they develop.”
Were they nervous?
“It made it a little bit easier because we were so tired and out of it because we didn’t get any sleep,” Vitters said. “We were like zombies on the plane, we couldn’t really think. It was hard to be nervous. We tried to sleep so we could perform well when we got here.”
– Carrie Muskat