Encouraging signs all around as Cubs close out exhibition slate
The Cubs have plenty to feel good about after their final tune-up for the regular season.
Jon Lester was efficient and effective while Willson Contreras continued to rake and Anthony Rizzo showed no ill effects of his back tightness in a 4-3 win over the Twins Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. It was the last exhibition game ahead of the regular season opener.
The only downside was Kris Bryant getting scratched from the starting lineup a couple hours before the game due to back tightness. But manager David Ross reaffirmed the Cubs were simply being cautious in a preseason contest and said, “if today was a regular season game, Kris plays.”
Rizzo’s strong recovery from a back injury was certainly a welcome sight for the Cubs. He homered in his first at-bat Wednesday night and then singled through the shift in his second trip to the plate.
He’s been slowed for most of summer camp with the low-back tightness and was able to take some swings off teammates in live BP sessions in recent days.
Lester also provided encouraging results as he works toward the No. 4 spot in the Cubs rotation. He threw 65 pitches in 4.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit, 2 walks and a hit batter.
The 36-year-old southpaw is on track to start Monday’s game for the Cubs in Cincinnati to open the second series of the season.
Contreras added a pair of blasts in the win over the Twins, continuing his hot summer. He crushed 4 homers off his teammates in the 9 intrasquad scrimmage games. In his third trip to the plate, Contreras chipped in a single.
Ian Happ also had a solid performance, subbing in for Bryant in the leadoff spot. Happ singled in his first at-bat (later scoring on Rizzo’s homer) and then drew walks in back-to-back plate appearances his next 2 times up.
Next time, it counts — the Cubs open the 2020 regular season Friday evening at Wrigley against the Milwaukee Brewers. Kyle Hendricks will take the ball against Brandon Woodruff.