Ill wind snuffs out Cubs rally
A typical Opening Day at Wrigley Field it was not.
A typical result, yes, and with a cruel weather twist thrown in at the end.
Monday morning rains gave way to afternoon sunshine, a game-time temperature of 60 degrees and a southwest wind howling out at 24 mph.
But by the end of the day, the wind had shifted in from off Lake Michigan, just in time for Starlin Castro's bases-loaded drive to right field to settle into the glove of Norichika Aoki — cutting short a rally to 2 runs and allowing the Milwaukee Brewers to escape with a 7-4 victory.
"For sure, I hit that ball good," said Castro, who tripled and doubled earlier in the ballgame when conditions were more hitter friendly. "That wind changed. The wind started blowing in. If I hit that ball in the first inning, second inning, it's supposed to be a homer. But the wind brought it in, and he caught it at the warning track."
All that said, the Brewers took advantage of the atypical April conditions early, building a 4-0 first-inning lead off Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. The Cubs got a second-inning 2-run homer by Welington Castillo, but they did nothing else and found themselves down 7-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The first four Cubs batters got singles, and the Brewers threw in an error to help — but in the end, an ill wind did them in.
"I had a bad feeling when we got things going there," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose team has lost four in a row and has a 2-5 record. "We had nobody out and those three guys (top of the order) coming up. That wind shifted. Obviously it was a factor in the game — both ways."
The Brewers batted around against Jackson (0-2, 5.73 ERA) in the first, with No. 7 hitter Martin Maldonado hitting a windblown double over the head of Nate Schierholtz in right field.
Jackson threw 33 of his 101 pitches in the first, but he settled down and lasted 6 innings.
"That's not really anything I make an excuse about," Jackson said of the wind. "The weather conditions are the same for both teams. Everybody has to go out and play and pitch in the same conditions."
Jackson added he made a mechanical adjustment that helped him feel more comfortable on the mound after 2 innings.
As far as Cubs hitters go, they struck out 10 times and walked once, giving them 11 walks and 64 strikeouts for the season.
"Nobody's pressing right now," Sveum said. "It's just a matter of hitting everybody together. Our 3-4 hitters, (Anthony) Rizzo's hit a couple home runs. Our 4-hitter (Alfonso Soriano) doesn't have an RBI yet. Not that he's swinging horrible, by no means, but we're not getting any homers or RBIs out of those spots."
•Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.
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