ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW/CP/AP) — Javier Baez homered twice, Jon Lester won for the first time in his last five opening day starts and the Chicago Cubs began the season with a 12-4 victory Thursday at Texas, spoiling the debut of new Rangers manager Chris Woodward.
Kris Bryant added a two-run shot for the Cubs, opening their fifth season under manager Joe Maddon after four playoff appearances in a row that included the 2016 World Series title.
Baez hit 34 homers and led the National League with 111 RBIs last season, when he finished second in MVP voting and was the starting second baseman in the All-Star Game.
With Addison Russell completing his 40-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, Baez opened this season as the starting shortstop for the Cubs. Barring no postponements, Russell could be eligible to return in early May.
The Cubs led 7-2 in the fifth inning after Baez greeted reliever Jesse Chavez with a three-run homer on the right-hander’s first pitch. That was an inning after Baez hit a solo shot, when he reached out almost one-handed to pull an 82 mph breaking pitch from Mike Minor (0-1) into the left-field seats.
Texas was down by 10 runs before Nomar Mazara’s two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. The eight-run loss still matched its most lopsided ever in a season opener.
Woodward, the 42-year-old former utility infielder who played 12 big league seasons, was the third base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers the past three seasons — and last two World Series.
Elvis Andrus, the 30-year-old shortstop and the longest-tenured Rangers player starting his 11th season, hit a two-run homer and had three of the four hits allowed by Lester.
Lester (1-0) struck out three while throwing 98 pitches over six innings to win his first opening day start since 2013 with the Red Sox. The lefty lost Boston’s 2014 opener, and lost his debut with the Cubs in 2015 before no-decisions the last two years.
Minor, the only holdover from last season’s rotation, made his first career opening day start. The left-hander permitted six runs and five hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Minor and six Rangers relievers, including two making their big league debuts, combined to allow 13 hits and eight walks.
Meantime, many fans who went to the game were frustrated with long security lines getting in.
Some fans said they waited in lines longer than an hour and they missed the first pitch.
The Rangers Executive Vice President of Communications John Blake, responded with the following email to CBS 11.
We did make the change described below in increased digital ticketing. That may have caused some more questions when people went through the gates but the scanning process went pretty smoothly. Fans who held tickets for today were informed of this change in advance.
Over the last few years, tailgating on opening day has become more and more popular and as a result, you have a big surge of fans trying to enter the park in the last 30 minutes before the game, especially from the north. And with the addition of Texas Live! we saw more fans hanging out there until soon prior to first pitch south of the park. Our security and customer service personnel were moving fans through as fast as possible through all entrances.
Ultimately, all of the lines were gone by 3:45, 37 minutes after first pitch. And that is about the same timing as the last several years.
NOTE: New for 2019, the Texas Rangers will no longer accept print-at-home PDF tickets or parking. If your tickets and parking are not printed on Rangers ticket stock, you may use an electronic version of your tickets and parking on your mobile device. Apple and Android users may utilize the MLB Ballpark app. or any smart phone user may login to their My Rangers ticket account to access their electronic tickets and parking. This includes tickets forwarded to another party. For additional information, please visit texasrangers.com/digital
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)