So of course Utley delivered on a blustery day at Wrigley Field.
“It was cold out there and the wind was blowing. It made it even colder,” Utley said. “But I thought overall we swung the bats pretty well.”
John Mayberry Jr. also had a two-run drive for his fourth career pinch-hit homer as Philadelphia bounced back after dropping the last two games of its opening series in Texas. Ben Revere and Domonic Brown had three hits apiece, and Brown also drove in two runs.
“He did his job today. He looked good,” Sandberg said. “Really liked his two-seam fastball, action on it was going down pretty good.”
Welington Castillo hit a solo homer for the Cubs, who have dropped four consecutive home openers for the first time since 1991-94. Travis Wood (0-1) struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings, but was charged with four runs, three earned, and six hits.
Wrigley Field was all dressed up for the first game of its 100th anniversary season. There were big blue banners on each side of the red sign that welcomes visitors to the beloved ballpark, and fans headed to the outfield bleachers strolled past historical pictures from the Cubs‘ longtime home.
The crowd of 38,283, wearing jackets and winter hats for the chilly afternoon, roared when Sandberg joined fellow Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams on the mound for a ceremonial first pitch. Banks, Jenkins and Williams drew more cheers when they sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.
“It’s a special day for me to be here, just for the festivities and the memories of opening days here,” said Sandberg, who spent 15 seasons in Chicago. “The fan base and the excitement opening day brought every year with the optimism that this is going to be the year. I thought that every single year.”
The Cubs are still waiting for that year. They last won the World Series in 1908, and many of their fans are more interested in the prospects in Chicago’s touted farm system than the players on the major league roster.
Hours before the home opener, one fan held up a sign near the Cubs‘ dugout that read: “There’s Always Next Year.”