On Major League Baseball's opening night, Chicago Cubs honored Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who died of a heart attack in January, with a pregame moment of silence, and his sons Jerry and Joey Banks each threw out a ceremonial first pitch. The club also extended its condolences to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals for Oscar Taveras, an outfield prospect who died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic last October.
"The ballpark was absolutely electric," new Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The pregame was wonderful. Everything was great. We just have to come through with a couple knocks now and then, but we will. I thought it was a really, really — for lack of a better term — a really good night."
The Cubs had Maddon in the dugout, and Jon Lester on the mound. Wrigley Field had a new look, with a giant videoboard in left field and pictures of Banks draped over the closed bleachers.
The St. Louis Cardinals had Adam Wainwright, and a bunch of familiar faces in the lineup. And it was more than enough for the NL Central champs.
Opening night went to the old guard.
Wainwright threw six innings of five-hit ball, leading the Cardinals to a 3-0 victory over Lester and the Cubs on Sunday in the major league opener.
"I was fortunate to throw some good pitches when I needed to throw some good pitches," Wainwright said.
Jason Heyward had three hits in his St. Louis debut, and Matt Holliday drove in two runs. Throw in Matt Carpenter's two hits, and the top third of the Cardinals' lineup went 7 for 14 with three RBIs.
"Selfishly, I like the idea of hitting between those two," Heyward said. "Holly can do damage and Carp sees so many pitches and has good (at-bats). I'm going to be kind of spoiled hitting there."
Playing their most anticipated opener in years, the Cubs went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Lester, who got a $155 million, six-year contract during free agency, allowed three runs and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings in his fifth straight opening day start.
"Just wasn't real sharp," Lester said. "Ball was flat. Anytime I get that many fly balls I know that I'm not where I need to be."
The addition of Lester and Maddon ramped up the expectations for Chicago after five straight losing seasons. But it was more of the same in their first game.
The biggest difference for the home team was the towering videoboard, part of a major renovation for the iconic neighborhood ballpark. Images of Banks, a slugging shortstop who played for Chicago for 19 seasons, covered the famed bleachers.
Heyward got the majors' first hit of the season when he doubled and scored on Holliday's single in the first. Holliday had another RBI single in the fifth.
It was more than enough for Wainwright, who was slowed by an abdominal injury early in spring training, but looked just fine in his fourth opening day start. The 6-foot-7 right-hander made the most of umpire Mike Winters' wide strike zone, striking out six with no walks.
"He's fun to watch," manager Mike Matheny said. "There's just special guys like that, when they get in tough situations, big games they're able to make the big pitch when they need to."
Carlos Martinez, who won the fifth starter job in training camp, then worked the seventh for St. Louis. Jordan Walden got three outs before Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side for the save.
The Cardinals' lefty pitcher Jaime Garcia, who is suffering from shoulder inflammation, is expected to begin a throwing program in the next week or so, and general manager John Mozeliak said, "I would say in the next week to two weeks we'll have a better idea of perhaps expected return or perhaps what a rehab assignment might look like. But I would say it's still about 10 to 14 days away before we make that decision."
Following an off day on Monday, Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta gets the ball on Tuesday against Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn. Arrieta went 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 25 starts last year, and Lynn has won at least 15 games in each of the last three seasons.
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