CHICAGO — Kyle Hendricks convinced new manager David Ross to let him finish a three-hitter, Anthony Rizzo homered and dished out hand sanitizer, and the Chicago Cubs started the season by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Friday night.
Ian Happ also had a two-run drive and Ross got his first victory as a big league manager as the Cubs opened this pandemic-shortened 60-game season without fans at Wrigley Field.
Showing off an improved curveball, Hendricks struck out nine and walked none in his first career opening-day start and fourth career shutout.
Orlando Arcia had each of Milwaukee’s hits off Hendricks (1-0). After he singled with two out in the third for the Brewers’ first baserunner, he accepted a splash of sanitizer from a smiling Rizzo at first and cleaned off his hands.
Ross came out to check on Hendricks with two out and a runner on first in the ninth. He decided to leave him in, and Keston Hiura bounced into a game-ending fielder’s choice on Hendricks’ 103rd pitch.
One of Chicago’s elevated train lines rumbled in the distance as the NL Central rivals renewed acquaintances three months after they were scheduled to begin the season at Miller Park. Normally, the sound of the Red Line is drowned out by 30,000-plus fans, but Wrigley Field was largely empty because of the coronavirus pandemic — making for a handful of unusual scenes.
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester watched the start of the game from the bleachers in left field. Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who is normally greeted by vociferous boos when he comes to Chicago, played in relative silence all night long.
Even with the stands empty, Jason Heyward carried a Chicago flag when he ran out to right field for the start of the game.
Milwaukee right-hander Brandon Woodruff allowed four hits in five innings in his first career opening-day start. Woodruff (0-1), who made the All-Star team last year for the first time, struck out five and walked one.
Woodruff’s only rough patch occurred in the third, when Nico Hoerner singled with one out and Happ followed with a deep drive to center. Happ also homered on opening day in 2018.
Rizzo connected in the eighth against J.P. Feyereisen, sending a shot over the wall in right against the Wisconsin native in his major league debut.
Brewers: Braun (back) got the start as the designated hitter and went 0 for 3. Manager Craig Counsell said Braun went through a full workout Thursday. “I think he needed to feel good after yesterday and he reported feeling better than he did the day before,” Counsell said. “That’s a good sign.”
Cubs: Rizzo was in the starting lineup after dealing with back trouble during summer camp. … Kris Bryant got the start at third after he was scratched from Wednesday’s exhibition game against Minnesota due to back stiffness.
Corbin Burnes and Yu Darvish take the mound when the series resumes Saturday afternoon. Burnes is making his fifth career start after spending much of his first two seasons in Milwaukee’s bullpen. Darvish finished strong last year, posting a 2.76 ERA over his final 13 starts with Chicago.