Grichuk, Cardinals top Cubs 4-3 in wild opener

By the time you are reading this column one of the most exciting days of the sporting year for me will be in the record books.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jeff Moran and Patti Carnahan dressed in their Chicago Cubs gear for opening day on Sunday.

For some it's the Super Bowl.

On a gorgeous early-April evening that turned rainy by game's end, the two teams squared off before a national television audience on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

While all those days are great and I look forward to each and every one of them. The MLB playoffs are often based on luck and who is hot at the time, rather than who is the best team in baseball.

But this opening day was different.

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) - Chris Archer pitched seven solid innings and Tampa Bay won the first game of the major league season, roughing up NY ace Masahiro Tanaka. I like Dex and I don't think he meant anything malicious with this.

All winter, the Cardinals thought about ways they could close that gap on Chicago, which won 17 games more than them during the regular season and rolled their way to their first World Series win in 108 years.

Sengheiser said the Cubs' title also had changed the rivalry for Cardinals fans.

The Final Four teams and game times are now set
The seventh-seeded Gamecocks used a 14-0 run to take a 29-15 lead over Baylor late in the first half in an East Region semifinal. They said goodbye with a resounding thud after going 0-fer from 3-point range in the second half of Sunday's 77-70 loss to SC .

"I couldn't believe it", Martinez said upon hearing the news of his opening day start, per Chuck King of the Associated Press. "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.

The defending World Series champs had no answer for Martinez's 95-plus miles per hour heat and a deceptive changeup that still touched 90 on the radar gun.

Although the Yankees rebuild seems to be ahead of schedule and the Buck Showalter-led Orioles are always a threat, the Red Sox will be taking the AL East this year. Cubs manager Joe Maddon needs just 19 wins to become the eighth active skipper to reach 1,000. Starting pitcher Jon Lester lasted 5 innings, running his pitch count to 102, but he gave up only 1 run. In 2016, he went 13-9 with 161 strikeouts in 198 2/3 innings pitched. They have Clayton Kershaw the best pitcher in the Dodger Rotation and everybody knows he wants a measure of revenge after Blowing Game 6 of Last Year NLCS.

The road to success for Jon Lester was also filled with hardships. The Cardinals lost top pitching prospect Alex Reyes to season-ending Tommy John surgery while staff ace Adam Wainwright is healthy, but he's 35 years old. Since 2011, St. Louis is 458-322 when Molina starts and 93-99 when he does not. "So, the main thing is, I really need to move forward from today".

The first pitch of the 2017 season has yet to be thrown, and Las Vegas oddsmakers already are picking the Cubs to win the World Series again.

One key for the offense is finding someone to replace Dexter Fowler in the lead-off spot.

Eduardo Nunez, a midseason acquisition by the Giants from Minnesota last season, had three hits, including a double. They're batting.263 against him. "The way I ended last year gave me confidence going into the offseason, so I'm excited to see where the year goes". That put two runners on for Contreras.

Schwarber is expected to play in left field, but could be the team's emergency third catcher. Spring Training results for Leake and Wacha weren't bad. "But it feels great when we do a good job against a good team". "I'm not saying it's a dynasty, but it's certainly looking like it could be". "Luckily, I was able to get the barrel there". Even though I will not go that far this time, I fully expect them to take their division in 2017.

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