The Chicago Cubs squeezed past the Minnesota Twins in the final exhibition game of the 2020 preseason. The Cubs started off hot, with leadoff hitter Ian Happ drawing a walk to set up Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer. Willson Contreras later added a wind-aided solo shot in the opening frame.
The same cannot be said for Contreras’ homer run in the bottom of the 3rd, which was crushed some 444 feet (per Statcast), giving starter Jon Lester a 4-0 lead.
The Twins struck back quickly after Dillon Maples replaced Lester in the top of the 5th, displaying his trademark sharp pitches and extreme unpredictability. Maples inherited a runner in Max Kepler, who advanced to third on a passed ball on an Ehire Adrianza that resulted in a single. Kepler scored on another passed ball and Adrianza eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Twins scored again in the 7th when former Cub Alex Avila crossed the plate on a groundout, but the four early runs were enough to keep the Cubs on top. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
Despite a few shaky moments, Cubs pitching came through when necessary. The Twins came close, flying to the warning track for their last out, but ultimately stranded nine baserunners.
Stats That Matter
- Lester went 4.1 innings, allowing one hit, two walks, four Ks, and a HBP. He lasted 66 pitches, which was enough to get the Cubs off to a strong start.
- Contreras went 3-for-3 with two solo homers and a single before leaving the game. His swing looks ready for the season.
There are still concerns about the fifth starter, Rizzo’s back and now Kris Bryant’s, and about the season in general. Lester’s solid start and Rizzo’s home run suggest they’re ready for the season to start.
The 2020 season gets underway Friday night at Wrigley Field as Kyle Hendricks meets righty Brandon Woodruff of the Milwaukee Brewers. First pitch is at 6:10pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.