Thursday, April 3, 2014
Day of firsts adds up to Cubs' first win
By Jesse Rogers
PITTSBURGH -- It was a game of firsts for the Chicago Cubs as they earned their first win of the season on Thursday afternoon, 3-2 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And there were firsts for the individuals involved. Rick Renteria notched his first win as a big league manager, third baseman Mike Olt hit his first major league home run, and pitcher Jason Hammel won his first game as a Cub. What does it all mean?
Renteria's First Win
It wasn't an easy series for the first-time manager. Three one-run games, including two that went extra innings, tested his strategy as well as his bullpen. But more important than anything was the response the Cubs showed after losing a heartbreaking 16-inning affair on Wednesday night only to have to play a matinee hours later.
Mike Olt's first major league home run gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
"It's deflating if you want it to be," Renteria said before the game. "I'm not going to come in here and have these guys lying down and be sad. I'm going to play my music and come in here every single day and be ready to go. You say I have a lot of energy -- that's what I want those guys to have, too."
Regarding the Wednesday loss, Olt added: "We had a better attitude than we could have. I think that's what helped us play well today."
These are the times we learn about the environment the manager is creating around his team. How many more Renteria wins are ahead in his Cubs career, and will he be here when the team turns the corner?
"I didn't think it was going to be such a relief, but it's quite a relief, quite honestly," Renteria said of the first win.
Olt's First Homer
Olt took a 3-2 pitch out to right field in the second inning for his first home run as a Cub and the first of his career. It was his first hit of the season, as well.
"It felt really good," he said. "It feels good to get just the first hit out of the way, and just happened to be a home run, which makes it a little bit sweeter."
It should be the first of many for the 25-year-old slugger, and on top of it the Cubs were able to retrieve the ball from a fan. The fan got a souvenir for the exchange, while Olt gets a symbol of all the hard work he's put in coming back from vision problems that plagued him last season.
"I haven't seen it yet, but I hear they have it," Olt said of the ball.
Hammel's First Victory
While Olt has his first of many home runs as a Cub, Jason Hammel might simply be one win closer to being traded. Granted, it won't happen for a while, but with the Cubs' propensity for flipping veterans on one-year deals, it's more likely to happen than not.
Especially if he keeps pitching as he did on Thursday.
"I was pretty surprised the way I was moving through the game," Hammel said. "I wanted to complete it and take it as far as I could have."
Hammel gave up two hits in 6 2/3 innings and didn't give up much hard contact to the Pirates. He was never in serious danger. Other teams will have interest if he keeps it up.