Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Welcome To The Sho: Shota Imanaga Made MLB History In Debut

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The Chicago Cubs started their Wrigley Field campaign with a win on Monday, beating the Colorado Rockies 5-0. This was the fourth time the Cubs shut out their opponent in the Wrigley opener in the last six years, and they have now won five out of the previous six openers. Shota Imanaga, Yency Almonte, and Drew Smyly were the ones to shut the door on anything coming across home plate for the Rockies.

It started slow for the Cubs’ bats, but they ended up with five runs on nine hits. One of those hits came off the bat of Christopher Morel in the sixth inning. It was ruled a single, but Rockies left-fielder Nolan Jones botched the grounder. The ball rolled all the way to the bricks. By the end of the play, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, and Morel came around to score. This led the Rockies to make a pitching change as the Wrigley crowd went wild, and the YMCA came blaring out of the speakers.

The rain began to fall after this inning, but the party was just beginning. Fans celebrated in Wrigleyville long after the final out was recorded, as they usually do. But as the dust has settled on a fun day at Wrigley, we need to be talking more about what Imanaga just did.

Shota Imanaga’s Historic Day At Wrigley

Shota Imanaga came out to the mound for the first time as a Major League pitcher with a Cubs uniform on and Chelsea Dagger blaring from the speakers. He said he picked the song for his walkout because he wanted the fans to enjoy it. For those who don’t know, Chelsea Dagger is the song the Chicago Blackhawks use when they score a goal. Imanaga already had a win before he even threw a warmup pitch.

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Also, as Imanaga took the mound for the first time, he became the first Cubs pitcher to make his first career start in the season’s first game at Wrigley Field. Wrigley is turning 110 years old this year. So, to do something this ballpark had not yet seen is remarkably special.

But when Imanaga started throwing, the magic continued. Imanaga did not allow a hit until the sixth inning when he gave up back-to-back hits to Charlie Blackmon and Brendan Rodgers. He regained his composure and struck out Nolan Jones to end his day.

Imanaga threw six complete innings, allowing just two hits, striking out nine batters, and walking no one. It is the first time in MLB history a pitcher threw at least six innings, struck out nine or more, and allowed zero walks in their debut—more history for Imanaga.

It’d be ridiculous to expect these numbers every time Imanaga takes the mound. But he looked extremely comfortable on a less-than-ideal day weather-wise at Wrigley. He is prone to fly-ball outs, so he will need to make some adjustments when the weather turns, and those warm breezes carry the ball over the wall. He’ll learn all about that this summer. For now, let’s appreciate what we witnessed on Monday.

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