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Cubs work game plan to perfection in Opening Night win

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta picked up where he left off last season when he won the Cy Young award, adding to a regular-season scoreless streak that now stands at 29 innings. He wasn't sharp early but got stronger facing the minimum batters in innings three through six. Remember, his spring was interrupted by a blister so a little rustiness at the start was expected. Once the adrenaline started pumping Arrieta was as good as ever. He struck out six, including Mike Trout twice, while giving up just two hits over seven innings in the 9-0 win. Joe Maddon was able to execute a preseason plan of reducing Arrieta's workload as a comfortable late-inning lead allowed him to pull Arrieta after only 89 pitches. The plan on the mound worked to perfection.

The plan at the plate worked even better as the Cubs grinded out 3-2 count after 3-2 count, forcing Angels starter Garrett Richards to the showers after five innings and 97 pitches. This was a plan five years in the making as the Cubs' front office wanted to replicate what they had in Boston: A patient lineup who's expertise wasn't just home runs but simply getting on and knocking the starter out. They did that on Opening Night as six free passes put pressure on the Angels. Lead-off man Dexter Fowler made it safely on base four times but the highlight may have been Jorge Soler's two-out walk in the sixth inning, just ahead of Miguel Montero's two-run home run. That's what the Cubs want their offense to be all about. By the time utility guy -- and Villanova alum -- Matt Szczur cleared the bases in the ninth with a three-run double the outcome had been determined. The Cubs played a near perfect Game No. 1.