Newly called up Cubs prospect Javier Baez looks to continue his early tear on Friday night when Chicago hosts the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game set at Wrigley Field.
The Wrigley Field faithful will get their first look at Baez, who has gone deep in each of his first three major league games. In his big league debut on Tuesday, Baez homered in the 12th inning to lift the Cubs to a 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. Over the course of his first three games, Baez has went yard three times and driven in five runs.
Still, he has his sights on even bigger production.
"I think it's going to be more exciting than (Coors Field)," Baez said. "We're home, and we have all the support from the fans, and there are a lot of people who know you and they want you to do good."
Baez was 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBI in Thursday's 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.
"My expectations of him is to be here to learn, to grind out at-bats, to experience the opposition's ability to work him, for him to get a feel to play second base alongside Starlin and (Anthony Rizzo) on that side, and to continue to learn the game," manager Rick Renteria said.
Chicago has won each of its last three series and is 7-3 in that span.
Tampa Bay is off to a 1-2 start on its 10-game road trip after dropping two of three in Oakland this week.
On Wednesday, the Rays snapped a three-game slide thanks largely to starter Jeremy Hellickson, who went seven innings and allowed only one run on two hits in his fourth start with the Rays since being called up from the minors. Kevin Kiermaier homered and drove in three runs on the day to help spark the offense.
"It's hard to maintain that kind of level or that pace, there's no question about it," manager Joe Maddon said of his team, which had won eight of its previous nine series. "That's why you want to be able to have a decent start (to the season), so that you can absorb these kind of moments at this time of the year. We've set it up to the point where we really can't."
The Rays were idle on Thursday.
Toeing the rubber for Tampa Bay in Friday's series opener is Chris Archer, who has pitched well over his last three starts. Most recently, the right-hander allowed three runs over six innings against the Angels on Saturday, as he struck out nine and walked three batters.
This will be Archer's first appearance against the Cubs team that traded him to Tampa Bay.
For Chicago, Tsuhoshi Wada looks to keep rolling along after posting a 3.32 ERA over his first four starts for the Cubs. This marks his third start at Wrigley, and the southpaw is coming off a no-decision in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last time out as he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on six hits while striking out six.