The Chicago Cubs opened the 2022 season, taking two out of three games from the NL Central favorite Milwaukee Brewers.

Photo: Tim Stebbins, NBCSportsChicago

The Cubs’ starting pitching has been phenomenal to start the season. Kyle Hendricks pitched 5.1 innings of one-run ball in the season opener. Hendricks allowed five hits, walked three, and struck out seven in his third consecutive opening day start. The Cubs’ offense hit well against all three Milwaukee starters, including reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. Burnes struggled with his command early, walking leadoff hitter Rafael Ortega. Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ, and Nico Hoerner all added RBIs in the game. The offense was well-balanced and patient. Newcomer Seiya Suzuki got his first hit as a Cub and added two walks of his own, Happ went 3-4, and veteran outfielder Jason Heyward went 2-4.

In game two, the benches clearing overshadowed a huge blowout victory from the Cubs. 

The Brewers starting pitcher? Brandon Woodruff, who finished 5th in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2021. The first four Cubs hitters reached against Woodruff, including Nick Madrigal, who was hit by a pitch. Cleanup hitter Ian Happ had an impressive at-bat and walked, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Seiya Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly, his first RBI as a Cub.

In the bottom of the fourth, Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch from Woodruff, which caused Contreras to show some frustration. The Milwaukee Brewers have hit Contreras 15 times in his career, including ten times since the Covid-shortened 2020 season. 

The Brewers hit Ian Happ in his left knee cap in the 7th inning, the third Cub hitter to be hit  of the day. Happ, who had a strong season in the first two games, was taken out for the rest of the game. The Cubs’ Keegan Thompson retaliated, throwing inside to Andrew McCutchen twice. The second pitch hit McCutchen’s hip, and the benches cleared shortly after. Thompson was ejected after the umpires briefly discussed the play. The Cubs’ bullpen and starting pitching dominated, and the Cubs defeated the Brewers 9-0.

The stellar pitching performance from Cubs’ starting pitcher Justin Steele was overshadowed by the blowout and the benches clearing.

Steele pitched five innings of four-hit ball and gave up zero runs. In addition, Steele added five strikeouts. A huge performance for Steele and the Cubs, as Justin attempts to solidify his spot in the rotation, especially with Wade Miley on the 10-Day IL.

The Cubs fell in the final game of the three-game set. Marcus Stroman started for the Cubs and dominated, only allowing one run and two hits in five innings.

Stroman only threw 79 pitches in the five innings but was taken out by David Ross. The bullpen pitched poorly, and the Brewers made a comeback, ultimately winning 5-4. The Cubs continued to play well in the first inning, where Seiya Suzuki hit his first career home run, a three-run shot to left-center field. 

Through the first three games, there are many positive takeaways. The Cubs have been incredibly patient amidst the Brewers’ starters’ struggles. The Cubs took advantage of 15 free bases in the series and were hit by a pitch four times. Suzuki leads the way, amassing six RBIs in his first three games.

The Cubs have an off-day on Monday but start a two-game series at the Pirates Tuesday.

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