4/3 Cubs 3, Pirates 2

The Cubs apparently play better on less sleep. Mike Olt hit his first Major League home run to help Jason Hammel win his Cubs debut and post a 3-2 victory Thursday over the Pirates, giving Chicago manager Rick Renteria his first victory.

There was no beer shower or champagne bottle waiting for Renteria but he was soaked because of the rain that started late in the game and drenched his lineup card and game notes.

“I was hoping the water would cleanse me a little bit,” he said.

The win came after the Cubs opened with two extra-innings losses, including Wednesday’s 16-inning marathon that ended shortly after 1 a.m. ET Thursday. It was a quick turnaround for the 12:35 p.m. start in the series finale.

Hammel wanted to finish the game. The right-hander, who signed a one-year, $6 million deal in February, days before pitchers and catchers reported, held the Pirates to two hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. The Cubs bullpen was short-handed because of the extra innings the night before.

“I was pretty surprised the way I was moving through the game,” Hammel said. “I wanted to complete it and take it as far as I could have.”

Emilio Bonifacio can apparently fall out of bed and hit. He led off the game with a single, his 10th hit in his 13th at-bat, then stole second, and two outs later, scored on Anthony Rizzo’s single.

“He’s on fire and hopefully he continues,” Renteria said of Bonifacio, now 11-for-16 for the season. “We’re seeing a lot of guys have good at-bats. We had some balls hit well. We’re on the right track.”

Bonifacio remembers a hot streak like this when he played for the Marlins in 2009.

“I’m just swinging at strikes,” he said. “That’s the main difference.”

Bonifacio doubled to open the third, and scored one batter later when Justin Ruggiano grounded into a double play. When Bonifacio grounded out in the fifth, the crowd of 11,418 at PNC Park cheered. Finally.

“I was laughing — it was funny,” Bonifacio said. “That’s part of the game.”

Olt, who hoped to continue his spring comeback story this season, made it 2-0 with a leadoff home run in the second off Wandy Rodriguez, hitting an opposite-field shot to right for his first big league homer. He showed exactly what the Cubs — and most likely the Rangers — were hoping for. Chicago acquired the third baseman last July; he’d struggled with vision problems which apparently have cleared up.

“That ball, down and away, to hit it the other way with some power, it shows you the kind of thump he has in his stick,” Renteria said of Olt.

“It’s not that I go out there trying for [home runs],” Olt said, “but it was nice to get the first hit out of the way and that it happened to be a home run makes it a little sweeter.”

Now, the Cubs head home 1-2.

“We didn’t want to go home 0-3,” Bonifacio said. “We just played two really good games. This win was really important for us.”

Friday will be the Cubs’ home opener. Renteria has yet to see his office at Wrigley Field.

“I didn’t think it was going to be such a relief [to get the win] but it’s quite a relief, quite honestly,” Renteria said.

– Carrie Muskat

12 Comments

What a Great Day America….the Cubs Win….Holy Cow!

Our Pitching looks good so far….unless your last name starts with a “V”…….

Our big guys need to get on base,,,,,,,once the league figures out Bonifacio, we are in trouble.

I predict our Cubs team will score 20 runs tomorrow……..Olt with 3 HR’s.

I hope so. I’m going to Opening Day and I would love to see a 20-run explosion with 3 HRs from Olt. I won’t be holding my breath though. I don’t think it’s so much that the league hasn’t figured out Bonifacio yet. I mean, he’s been around the league quite a bit for several seasons now, so it’s not like no one knows who he is. He just had a really good series and that’s all. I remember a few years ago he got off to a really good start with the Marlins, so maybe he just starts off the season well in general. Or sometimes you just see the ball really well against certain pitchers or in a certain ballpark, but then you change parks and see a new group of pitchers and suddenly it’s like you’re swinging at nothing but air. Or maybe this will be a career year for him and he’ll hit .330 and be the leadoff hitter the Cubs have been looking for ever since half a season of Kenny Lofton back in 03.

O what no we suck post or long year post or no playoffs for twenty years? One win and ur flipped back…. Do u take meds required by Obama care?

Even though the Cubs won today…..we still SUCK……..it will be some time before we sniff playoffs………..any intelligent Cubs fan knows this.

you flip flop more than a pancake

I wore my gray Chicago-themed socks today…Cubs wore gray road jerseys (well, except for that little mix-up with Lake). I think I figured it out—I’ll wear my gray socks every day!

Bryant with a HR in his first game at AA Tennessee. Can’t get that kid to Wrigley fast enough.

Aloha Folks- I have to to say that I was intrigued by the Hammel pick up and hoping the best for him. He was great today, yes his first start but that is encouraging. Let’s see in three games the pitching gave up 1run, 4runs and 2runs on the road for an average of…2.33! And besides Bonifacio, for Olt to get his first dinger today must have lifted the team’s and his spirit. I think if we can look at each game with renewed excitement, it can help us get through the season as this team gains confidence and builds its character. I think overall a very good series at the beginning of the season. Doug I hope all of you have a great opening day at Wrigley! Make sure to get that hot chocolate. Mahalo!

What happened to the veteran RH hitting OF, McDonald, that played for Cubs and bounced back and forth to AAA the past 2 years?????

He was reassigned to minor league camp. So he’s still in the organization, but not assigned to any specific minor league team yet.

As a rostered player, there would have to be a “transaction” to move him to the minors. I checked all of the spring transactions and none appeared that included him, So I repeat the question!

hes on the DL

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