Cubs, Maddon become first to use no-pitch intentional walk

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester pitches in the 2016 World Series

"It's going to be a good one, but I always like to win", Fowler said.

Sunday's walk-off was the fourth on Opening Day in Cards history, with the last coming on April 26th, 1995.

For some it's the Super Bowl. Let me clear this up: Martinez had struck out six batters at the time and hadn't walked anyone. To some it's the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500.

For Martinez, his clutch moment on the first day of the season might indicate this year will go in a better direction than any of his previous ones.

But this opening day was different. The game is televised on ESPN. They'll try to borrow from that again in the second game of the series Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

MLB Opening Night on ESPN, in which the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs 4-3, was the highest-rated Opening Night telecast since 2010, based on metered market ratings from Nielsen. The Cubs have had success against Martinez, who is 3-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 19 games (nine starts) versus Chicago.

For decades - in this space - I have shared my disdain for the Cubs, the dumpy ballpark everyone blindly refers to as "historic" and the fact it is OK for an Illinois-grown kid to like another baseball team besides the Cubs. "The signing of Lackey before the 2016 season, according to Lester, raised the Cubs" talent level as well as their mindset about being prepared to win.

Another big splash in the offseason market was the New York Yankees' re-acquisition of the flame-throwing Cuban closer, Aroldis Chapman.

Grichuk supplied three out of the four runs for the Cardinals offense.

Early Entry Tracker: Lonzo Ball (unsurprisingly) declares for 2017 NBA Draft
On a night when Adebayo was surprisingly unproductive (just two points and four boards), Fox and Monk carried Kentucky with 60. Fox was the best player on the floor, sinking medium-range jump shots, getting into the lane at will and scoring 15 points.

Chicago's "Big Three" in the starting rotation - Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey - are as good as any three in the majors.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Pitch by pitch, Chris Archer set the tone for what he and the Tampa Bay Rays hope will be a bounce-back year. Just listen to Baseball Tonight or MLB-Network and you will hear more praise heaped upon Chicago than on any other team. They could be sellers if things don't go well early.

"Impressive", Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Martinez. Since 2011, St. Louis is 458-322 when Molina starts and 93-99 when he does not. They certainly should expect nothing less from the Cardinals, who are used to being the alpha males in the National League Central and to pummeling the Cubs throughout the generations.

Logan Morrison (7), who had three RBIs, is congratulated by teammate Tim Beckham after hitting a home run off of Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. They might have offloaded a couple key players, but with players like Schwarber returning and Heyward getting his swing right, It's going to be another remarkable year for all Cubs fans around.

One possibility to replace him at the top of the batting order is Kyle Schwarber. The main struggles for the Cubs last season occurred during the stretch before the All-Star game, when Fowler was on the DL with a right hamstring strain. The last time the Cardinals started a season at home was 2011, when they lost 5-3 to San Diego. For the most part, St. Louis played well in the field. Maddon said that happened during spring training.

He has a career.353 on-base percentage.

OK, then will it be a disappointment if the Cubs don't at least get back to the World Series? "So come together and obviously we want to win our division and get back, but we have a lot of things to take care of before that". "I'm not saying it's a dynasty, but it's certainly looking like it could be". For me, mentally, the page has been turned.

"The diversity of our workforce is going to make for change in the unwritten rules, which, after all, are player rules that are enforced by players", Manfred said.

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