With a 35-57 record at the All-Star break, a nine-game losing streak that only an eighth-inning rally stopped from reaching 10 games on Sunday and a hostile fan base frustrated with ownership and the front office, it’s hard to think about the good times for the Cubs.
In a season like this, fans just have to settle with celebrating moments or individual performances for certain players. Here are my most memorable moments of the first half of 2022.
After the lockout pushed the offseason into March leading teams to make their major free agent signings at the same time as the beginning of spring training, the Cubs opened the season at Wrigley Field against the Brewers on April 7.
Despite this season’s expectations, baseball was back at Wrigley Field, and even on a chilly day at the corner of Clark and Addison, the Cubs gave fans an Opening Day to remember.
It’s been a rollercoaster rookie season for Seiya Suzuki, but he was the highlight of April for the Cubs, winning NL Rookie of the Month. His first career homer in front of the Wrigley faithful was fun to watch, but he followed that performance up with a two homer game against the Pirates in the Cubs first road game of the season on April 12. He finished April with a 155 wRC+ and .279/.405/.529 slash.
Happy birthday, Stro!
It’s been an inconsistent and injury-plagued season for him to this point, but Marcus Stroman’s 31st-birthday performance in Milwaukee was his best start as a Chicago Cub.
Stroman has pitched into the seventh inning just twice this season, but he had the “Strong Show” on full display to help the Cubs avoid a sweep by the Brewers on May 1. At the time, Stroman went head-to-head against the reigning Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes and got the better of him that day as the Cubs won 2-0 behind his strong outing.
Late-night lecture In San Diego
Kyle Hendricks has been inconsistent since the beginning of last season, but when the Cubs traveled to San Diego back in May, he delivered one of his most impressive outings of his career. Hendricks nearly threw a complete-game shutout, tossing 8 2/3 innings and limiting the Padres to just three hits and a walk while striking out three.
The Cubs were coming off a 3-14 stretch against the Braves, the Brewers, the White Sox and the Dodgers. This outing kickstarted the Cubs’ best road stretch of the season, winning that series in San Diego and one in Arizona later that week.
It will go down as one of the most memorable moments of the season for the Cubs.
Keegan Thompson delivered five strong innings — just one part of his fantastic first half — in route to a 7-0 victory. Brandon Hughes made his major league debut, striking out the first five batters he faced and becoming the first pitcher in the Modern Era to record five or more outs in an MLB debut with each out coming via strikeout.
However, it was Christopher Morel who stole the show. In his first major league at-bat, the versatile defender and power threat hit his first career home run (and no one was more excited than Willson Contreras).
Caleb Kilian’s major league debut on June 4 was arguably the most-anticipated debut for a Cubs pitcher since the days of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
Kilian shined in his debut (outside of one inning). He finished the game with a line of five innings pitched, six strikeouts, three earned runs and three walks. The righty still has a lot of growth to go in order to become a mainstay in the Cubs’ starting rotation, but the potential was seen on this night against the Cardinals.
On June 17, Theo Epstein said his goodbyes to the city of Chicago after he announced his family was moving back east. He went out in a big way, spending the day with the Bleacher Bums in left field. After 10 straight losses, the Cubs hosted the Braves at Wrigley Field for a game in which Keegan Thompson led the way to a 1-0 win, striking out nine batters over the course of six innings. Willson and William Contreras also had a brotherly moment pregame as well.
Maybe, Theo was the good luck charm the Cubs needed that day.
City Connect comeback
The Cubs hosted the Red Sox at Wrigley Field for the first time since 2012 to begin their July schedule. The Cubs went into that set winners of two consecutive series. The Red Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead off Adrian Sampson in the early innings as, while former Cubs pitcher Rich Hill returned to the North Side and was in control to start.
In the middle innings, things started to fall apart after Hill was forced to leave the game due to an injury. Boston’s bullpen didn’t make matters easier, allowing the Cubs to score six runs in two innings ignited by Morel’s game-tying homer in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Red Sox bullpen could not contain anything after Hill departed and the Cubs took advantage, and the North Siders went on to win their third straight series.
Inside The Park
The game ended in a loss, but in the moment, it was arguably the most exiting moment of the season thus far, and one of the most memorable moments on Independence Day in recent Cubs history. After 39 days on the Injured List, Suzuki made his return to the Cubs a memorable one. For the first time since July of 2017, a Cub hit an inside-the-park home run. Suzuki hit in the ninth inning off Josh Hader, one of the best closers in all of baseball.
The last one was hit by Javier Baez in San Francisco.
The Cubs ended the first half of the season as bad as you could have expected, and it’s likely only to get worse with the trade deadline looming on Aug. 2. Many young Cubs still have things to play for, but in a season like this, fans will need to savor the good in all the bad that comes along the way.
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