Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
DUSTY BALL: CUBS DRUB METS IN OPENER
FLUSHING, N.Y. — Just last month, the movie musical “Chicago” made an impact at the Academy Awards.
While Dusty Baker and his new-look Cubs aren’t seeking any Oscars, they’re hoping to be as successful as their movie brethren.
If Monday’s Opening Day’s performance is a gauge, the sports fans of the Second City could possibly have another hit on their hands.
Corey Patterson drove in a career-high seven runs to power the Cubs to a 15-2 romp over the Mets at Shea Stadium and give Baker the win in his Chicago debut.
The 15 runs tied the Cubs’ record for Opening Day, set in 1899 when the team posted a 15-1 win over Louisville.
It was also a good start for the 53-year-old Baker, who left the National League Champion Giants during the off-season, for the Cubs job.
Chicago finished 67-95 in 2002, their fourth season with over 90 losses in the last six years. One of the first things Baker set out to do when he joined the team was to change the mind set of the organization.
“We have to change the way we’re percieved from inside and outside the organization,” said Baker.
“We’re looking for team excellence right now and we want to reach the point to where we’re regarded as one of the best teams in baseball.”
“I know it’s something that’s going to take some time, but I’m up for the challenge. The only way we can achieve that is to go out and play like we did today (Monday).”
Patterson, who went 4-for-6, hit a pair of RBI singles in the first and third, added a three-run homer in the sixth and a two-run homer in the seventh. His previous career RBI best was four, set last June 28 against the Chicago White Sox.
He’s the first Major Leaguer to have seven RBIs on Opening Day since Brant Alyea did so for Minnesota on April 7, 1970, in a 12-0 win against the Chicago White Sox.
The Cubbies made quick work of New York starter Tom Glavine by jumping on the ex-Brave for four runs in the first inning.
With game-time temperature at 39 degrees, coupled with a 20-mph wind, the Cubs did their best to stay warm in the first.
Mark Grudzielanek walked to lead off and reached third on Alex Gonzalez’s double. Sammy Sosa singled to score Grudzielanek, and Moises Alou followed with a double to drive in Sosa and Gonzalez. Patterson then singled to score Alou and made it 4-0.
Glavine (0-1), who threw 34 pitches in the first, departed after 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander gave up five runs on eight hits and four walks, striking out two.
Chicago starter Kerry Wood (1-0) gave up two hits and walked three over five innings. The right-hander also struck out five and helped himself with a two-out, RBI infield-single in the fifth.
The Mets, who were held to just four hits, scored their only two runs of the game in the second on RBI singles by Jeremy Burnitz and ex-Cub Rey Sanchez.
“We gave them runs early and made it tough for Tommy (Glavine),” said New York first baseman Mo Vaughn. “He was also having a hard time throwing strikes because of the cold.”
“(Kerry) Wood is a power pitcher and was really dominating at times today. You don’t ever wanna come out and play like this, but we have to put it behind us.”
Mark Bellhorn drove in four runs with a sacrifice fly in the sixth and a three-run triple in the seventh for Chicago. It’s the first time since 1988 the Cubs have posted double-digit runs in the season opener. That year, Chicago beat Atlanta, 10-9, in 13 innings.
Of course, one game does not a season make for either team. But Baker, who won 100 games in his first season at San Francisco, is very encouraged by the way his team came out against New York.
“I know it’s not something that’s going to change overnight.” Baker added. “We’re being realistic about things, but we’re also expecting some good things this season. There are come key ingredients on this team that have to come through for us to be successful.”