MIAMI -- The Cubs kicked off the 2018 season on a historic note with Ian Happ's leadoff homer and added solo blasts by Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, who survived some adventures in left field, to post an 8-4 victory Thursday over the Marlins."I thought we swung the bats well
MIAMI -- The Cubs kicked off the 2018 season on a historic note with Ian Happ's leadoff homer and added solo blasts by Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, who survived some adventures in left field, to post an 8-4 victory Thursday over the Marlins.
"I thought we swung the bats well the whole game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Obviously, a leadoff homer doesn't hurt -- and on the very first pitch of the game."
Happ's homer not only came on the first pitch of the game but the first pitch of the 2018 season for all Major League teams. He's the first player to do that since the Red Sox's Dwight Evans did so in 1986 against Hall of Fame inductee Jack Morris and the Tigers.
• Happ leads off 2018 with a homer in Miami
"First pitch, he did a wonderful job," Maddon said of the fastball from Marlins starter Jose Urena. "[Happ's] not going to be there [in the leadoff spot] the whole time, but he got us going."
It was a dubious first inning for Urena, who became the first starter to hit three batters on Opening Day, and he did it in the first inning -- plunking Rizzo, Addison Russell and Javier Baez. According to Baseball Reference, that goes back to 1908.
Urena went four innings, which was slightly longer than Chicago starter Jonathan Lester, who was lifted after giving up three earned runs over 3 1/3 innings.
"Guys I got ahead of, I didn't put them away," Lester said. "Guys I got behind, I couldn't get back ahead. I really had no feel for the breaking ball. Good cutters that I did throw, they were balls out of the hand. An adjustment has to be made, and we'll make it. The big thing is we won the game. The guys swung the bats really well from the beginning and picked me up. There's positives to be seen."
• Schwarber's day: Adventures in LF, long HR
The Marlins had four rookies in the Opening Day lineup, and they took advantage of some Cubs mistakes in the third to rally and tie the game at 4.
"If hope is an indicator, [and] I feel like it will be, we're going to play, that's for sure," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I just look at it and feel like we're going to be all right."
The Cubs and Marlins have different expectations this season. The Cubs are looking for their fourth straight trip to the postseason. There was no team meeting, though. Maddon has tried to get his message across this spring through artwork, and the most recent painting featured Uncle Sam with "We Want You To Be Yourself."
Rizzo is the perfect example of that. This is an emotional trip for the first baseman, whose Parkland, Fla., high school was the site of a horrific shooting on Feb. 14, when 17 people were killed. After hitting his homer in the second, Rizzo touched the patch on his jersey, which both teams are wearing to honor the victims, then pointed to the sky.
"I just wanted to slow down, run the bases, enjoy that moment," Rizzo said. "It's Opening Day -- to hit a home run Opening Day is special, but with everything that's gone on at home in Parkland, it was a little more special for me personally."
• Opening Day takes on special meaning for Rizzo
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Start me up: Happ didn't waste any time, launching the first pitch of the regular season into the right-field seats. Happ, who led the Cubs with seven homers in Spring Training, connected on Urena's fastball.
"I was thinking fastball first-pitch there," Happ said. "Historically, I've seen him pretty well the last couple times I've faced him. He got me a couple times after that."
"The first inning was we were going to attack the hitters with fastballs," Urena said. "We knew they were going to be aggressive."
Holding the line: After the Cubs reclaimed the lead, 5-4, in the fourth inning on Willson Contreras' two-out, RBI double, the Marlins had chances in the fourth and fifth innings. In each frame they had a runner on third with less than two outs, and twice reliever Steve Cishek, a former Marlin, turned Miami away. Cishek struck out Starlin Castro and retired Justin Bour on a fly ball to left to strand Cameron Maybin on third in the fourth inning. In the fifth, with Garrett Cooper on third and Miguel Rojas (who doubled) on second, Cishek fanned Chad Wallach and got pinch-hitter Tomas Telis to pop to short.
"That's not where I want to put myself in the second inning of work," Cishek said of the fifth inning. "I was staying calm. The biggest thing was to make sure we weren't mixing up signs with a guy on second and third. We hadn't really practiced that in spring, so we did impromptu stuff there and it worked out. The last thing I wanted to do was throw the ball to the backstop."
Cishek ended up getting the win in his Cubs debut.
"To get that win was nice. You've got nice pitching coming up. That's what you look at -- here comes Kyle [Hendricks], here comes Yu [Darvish], here comes [Jose Quintana], here comes [Tyler] Chatwood. That makes the difference for me when you can throw good of a quality pitcher every night, it just presents differently to your team." -- Maddon, on his rotation
"They have a high fan base, everybody knows that. But so do we. We've got to build ours. I heard plenty of Marlins fans out there. I'm glad for everybody that showed up today -- Cubs or Marlins fans. We'll get them out to the ballpark. All we have to do is win games." -- Marlins rookie Lewis Brinson, on the energy in the ballpark
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Happ is the first Cubs player to hit a leadoff home run on Opening Day since Alfonso Soriano did in 2009 against the Astros. Happ is the fourth Cubs player to accomplish the feat since 1908, joining Bump Wills in 1982 and Tuffy Rhodes in 1994.
Cubs:Kyle Hendricks makes his regular-season debut in the second game of the Cubs' four-game series in Miami. Hendricks finished 2017 strong, posting a 2.19 ERA in 13 starts after the All-Star break. He's 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins, including a complete-game shutout Aug. 1, 2016, the last time he faced them. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT from Marlins Park.
Marlins:Caleb Smith, one of 12 Marlins to appear on an Opening Day roster for the first time, makes his debut with the Marlins on Friday for the 7:10 p.m. ET game at Marlins Park. Smith made nine appearances (two starts) for the Yankees last season, and in 18 2/3 innings, he had a 7.71 ERA. At two Minor League levels, the lefty was 9-1 with a 2.41 ERA.
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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.