PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs wound up 0-for-3 in replay challenges during last Saturday's spring exhibition finale in Phoenix. They also lost a pair of decisions in Monday's regular-season opener in a 1-0 loss to the Pirates as Major League Baseball begins its first season of expanded replay.
In the top of the fifth inning, Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second. Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano threw to third base for a forceout, and Samardzija was called out on a close play at first base on the relay.
Contact information ( * required )
Cubs manager Rick Renteria asked umpires for a review. The call came back from MLB replay center in New York that Samardzija indeed was out.
In the top of the 10th, new Cub Emilio Bonifacio was on first base when Pirates pitcher Bryan Morris made a pickoff attempt. First-base umpire Bob Davidson, a veteran ump, called him safe. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle asked about the play. It was reviewed, and Bonifacio was called out.
The Pirates won the game in the bottom of the 10th on a homer by Neil Walker.
"The one with Bonifacio, I couldn't really make it out myself," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. "I'm still trying to figure out what the clear and convincing evidence is supposed to be. It's a work in progress. They have a lot of people looking at those videos in New York."
Samardzija said he tried to "coax the call" by making a "safe" sign as he crossed the bag at first base.
"They handled that real well," Samardzija said. "The umpires did a great job. It went nice and clear. We didn't have to sit around and stand out there too long."
Before the game, Cubs president Theo Epstein was asked his opinion on replay.
"We tried to prepare as best we could in spring training," Epstein said. "It's a pretty involved process. But this is only our third game with all of the actual equipment, the computers and the software that they'll use in the clubhouse. It's our first game with a 12-camera feed.
"The one thing I learned this spring is that the umpires are pretty darn good. A lot of those close calls, they get right."
In good company:
Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija worked 7 scoreless inning in Monday's loss. He became the Cubs' first starting pitcher with consecutive starts of at least 7 innings since Lon Warneke turned in back-to-back complete games in 1933-34.
"I felt pretty good," Samardzija said. "The first day coming back into cold weather from warm weather is a little different.
"It takes a little longer (to get loose), and you don't quite feel the same. I was pretty happy. The ball was down in the zone. ... I got some double plays (3), which obviously made it look a little better than what it was."
Olt battles back:
Mike Olt, who was no sure thing to make the Cubs roster even as spring training wound down, started at third base on Opening Day.
The Cubs obtained Olt from the Rangers last July in the trade that sent pitcher Matt Garza to Texas.
He battled vision problems last year in the minor leagues and had a subpar season.
"Baseball is a humbling sport," he said. "There a lot of things you come through. When you get through moment like this, it's definitely something where you have to pinch yourself.
Olt was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. He also popped out to short with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth inning.
Manager Rick Renteria thought long and hard over his first opening-day lineup. Against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano, Renteria had the right-handed hitting Emilio Bonificio lead off and play center field.
Justin Ruggiano might have been an option, but he was nursing a sore ankle from spring training. Ruggiano should be OK later in the week.
Left-handed batters to start were right fielder Nate Schierholtz and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who batted fourth instead of his customary third.
"We're facing Liriano, who's very tough on lefties," Renteria said. "Schierholtz was swinging the bat really well in the spring against lefties. We played these guys against a lot of lefties, if you guys noticed, during the spring. There was a reason for it."
Bonifacio went 4-for-5. According to Elias, he tied a Cubs record for hits by a player in his Cubs debut. He joined Jack Doyle, who did it in 1901.