ATLANTA—Bruce Kimm erased any doubt that he'll put his stamp on this Cubs team in the sixth inning of Sunday's 2-0 loss to the Braves.
After Joe Girardi led off with a double, pitcher Jon Lieber stepped to the plate in an obvious bunting situation. Trailing four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux 1-0, Lieber would give up an out to advance Girardi to third, right?
Kimm had Lieber swing away.
The Cubs' new manager knows Lieber can hit and figured Braves defenders would be out of position. Plus he reasoned if Lieber couldn't advance Girardi with the first pitch, he would have two more tries.
"Facing a guy like Maddux, if you try to do everything according to Hoyle, sometimes it doesn't work," Kimm said. "I was hoping Lieber would get a decent pitch because Maddux might think he was bunting."
Lieber's swing resulted in a dribbler to the right side that advanced Girardi to third.
As for the strategy, Kimm had planted the seed with Lieber before the game.
"He talked about being aggressive on the first pitch," Lieber said. "If he lays one in there, whack it. I like that. We're trying to make things happen."
Girardi was stranded at third after Darren Lewis struck out and Angel Echevarria grounded out. Lewis took a called third strike on a borderline 3-2 pitch and argued the call with plate umpire Mark Carlson.
"The pitch to me was outside, but everybody knows he gets those pitches," Lewis said. "He threw me that same pitch earlier in the at-bat that he called a ball. That's why I was so upset."
Maddux improved to 9-3 with a 2.34 ERA against his former team. Lieber fell to 6-6 despite allowing just one earned run.