Opening day is finally here, and the Cubs start it at home for the first time since 2008. The Cubs even get what seems to be an easy first opponent in the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates only won 57 games in 2010, and yet 18% of those came against the Cubs. How did the Cubs go 5-10 versus the Pirates last year. Seems almost impossible, and yet it happened. Lets hope 2011 can reverse their misfortune versus the Pirates and starts off on the right foot.
This will also be the first appearance in a Cubbie uniform for Carlos Pena, and will most likely be Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro’s first opening day start. This series will also most likely feature the return of Kerry Wood to the mound in Cubbie blue. His appearance will most likely be the most anticipated moment of the weekend series. On a more somber note this will the Cubs first home game since the passing of Ron Santo, which I am sure will be on many folks minds as they listen to the broadcast on the radio.
Game 1: Friday April 1st, 2011
1:20 CST on WGN
Kevin Correia vs. Ryan Dempster
A matchup between two pitchers receiving their very first opening day start for their current teams. The matchup on paper really favors the Cubs, but Dempster has really struggled for his career against the Pirates. Dempster has appeared in 45 games vs the Bucco’s and has a 6-10 record with a 5.63 ERA. Correia has pitched in 8 games vs the Cubs and also has a 5.63 ERA vs his opponents.
Game 2: Saturday April 2nd, 2011
12:05 CST on CSN
Paul Maholm vs Carlos Zambrano
Game two features Carlos Zambrano who will not be taking the ball on opening day for the first time since 2004. Paul Maholm takes the mound for the Pirates in game two and has really struggled versus the Cubs. Appearing in 13 games he has a 6.42 ERA, but despite that large ERA his record is 7-2. Zambrano has been pretty good with a 4.02 ERA in 30 games, but only has a 12-8 record. Somehow the Pirates have found ways to win with Maholm on the mound against the Cubs, but facing hopefully a new, more focused Zambrano will change those winning ways.
Game 3: Sunday April 3rd, 2011
1:20 CST on WGN
Ross Ohlendorf vs Matt Garza
This should be Matt Garza’s first appearance in a Cubs uniform. Garza has never pitched against the Pirates in his career. Most of his first appearances against teams this year will be his first time seeing the opposition since Garza has spent his entire career in the American League. Ohlendorf has 3 games against the Cubs and has put up a 1.35 ERA, despite that he has only walked away with a victory once. This game should be interesting to see how Garza does in the friendly confines or Wrigley Field. Being a flyball pitcher we could see some homerun’s against him this year. Luckily the Pirates were 14th in the NL in homeruns last year only hitting .78 home runs per game. Hopefully Garza can keep the ball in the ball park and Cubs can end the series with a win.
Overall facing the Pirates to start off the season is a nice thing. The Pirates havent had a winning in nearly 20 years. Many members of CCS werent even alive the last time they were relevant, but the Cubs cannot take them lightly as we saw from last year when the Cubs went 5-10. If the Cubs are going to do anything in 2011 they have to win the series’ they are supposed to and if starts right here on opening weekend. The season cannot be won in April but it can be lost, and the Cubs have to start 2011 on the right foot.