Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Cubs play their home opener today against a familiar face, as Ryne Sandberg leads the Philadelphia Phillies into Wrigley Field for the 100th anniversary celebration of the famed ballpark.
The second-oldest stadium in the majors, next to Boston's Fenway Park, Wrigley Field was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park. The Cubs will mark the 101st Wrigley Field opening game and the 99th for the Cubs at the ballpark. The Chicago Federals went 2-0 in Wrigley Field openers (1914-15) and the Cubs have compiled a 52-45-1 record in home openers from 1916-2013. The Cubs have lost their last three home openers.
Travis Wood, the Cubs' All-Star in 2013, will start Friday for the hosts. The lefty begins his third season in a Cubs uniform. Last season, he was 9-12 with a 3.11 ERA in 32 starts. He reached the 200-inning mark and became the first Cubs lefty to accomplish the feat since Ted Lilly in 2008. Wood doesn't have a decision and has logged a 2.11 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies.
The Cubs finally got win No. 1 for new manager Rick Renteria Thursday afternoon with a 3-2 decision against Pittsburgh. Emilio Bonifacio continued his blazing hot start with a pair of hits and two runs scored to back a strong effort from Jason Hammel in his Cubs debut.
Mike Olt clubbed his first big league homer for the Cubs, while. Bonifacio was 2-for-4 with a double and finished 11-for-16 in the series. Bonifacio also stole four bases during the series.
"I only walked in (Wrigley Field) a couple times and last time I was in it, it was snowing," Olt said when asked about Friday's home opener. "It will be nice to get over there. I'm excited for the opening day."
Hammel yielded just two hits and one run with five strikeouts and one walk in 6 2/3 innings. He signed a one-year deal in the offseason after spending the past two seasons in Baltimore.
Sandberg spent 15 years as a player for the Chicago Cubs, making 10 All-Star Games, winning nine Gold Gloves as a second baseman and claiming the NL MVP award in 1984. He managed the Phillies at Wrigley Field last Aug. 30 - Sept. 1 in 2013 when the Cubs won two of three meetings.
Philadelphia's bullpen is off to a rocky start. Closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a 3-1 ninth-inning lead at Texas as the Rangers came away with a 4-3 win Wednesday night. Shin-Soo Choo drew a walk to force in the game-winning run.
It was the second walk-off loss for the Phillies. On Tuesday, Adrian Beltre tied the game with a double in the seventh inning and won it with a single in the ninth in a 3-2 final.
Ryan Howard homered for the first time this season, and Carlos Ruiz went 2- for-4 with two runs scored for Philadelphia in Wednesday's game.
"We've got a lot more games to play," said Papelbon. "Obviously it's disappointing. I thought (Kyle) Kendrick pitched well enough to deserve that win. Unfortunately, the bullpen wasn't able to preserve it for him."
Roberto Hernandez, who signed in the offseason with the Phillies to a one- year, $4.5 million deal, starts today's game. The veteran right-hander went 6-13 with a 4.89 ERA in 32 games (24 starts) for Tampa Bay last season. This will be his second appearance, and first start against the Cubs.
These teams split six meetings last season.