Tonight the Cubs travel to St. Louis for the first time this season and face the Cardinals. The last time they saw this team was on opening week, where they took the two game set 2-0.
Unfortunately this meeting finds the Cubs in a bit of a slide. They were swept by the Brewers and lost the series before that, while the redbirds have finally begun to play more to their pre-season expectations and have swiftly moved into 5th place, although Yadier Molina is currently out with an injury.
Tonight’s game sees Travis Wood (1-2, 3.00) against John Lackey (3-3, 4.72). The umpire has called for Dexter Fowler to step up to the plate and it’s time to play ball!
Dexter, who has been hitting very well of late hits a 2-2 slider into right for a single. After a few throws to first by Lackey he is off on a 2-2 pitch and slides in just under Kolten Wong’s tag for a stolen base. Unfortunately nothing more happens and Lackey works his way out of trouble and the Cardinals come to bat in a 0-0 game.
The hometown crowd is sensing a big game from their team and it’s a sea of red as Chris Carpenter steps to the plate with two out. He hits a rocket down the first base side, but Anthony Rizzo makes a great diving stab, gets up and makes the underhanded toss to Wood to get the out on a bang bang play that was challenged, but the replay crew upheld the call and the score was still 0-0 after one inning.
Neither team does much and there was still no score as the Cubs batted in the top of the third inning. Travis Wood draws a walk that was sure to have irritated his manager and had moved to second on a ground out by Fowler. Starlin Castro, who has been a pleasant surprise so far puts runners on the corners with a sharp single to right.
Things get a little crazy now as clearly someone missed a sign. Castro is off on the first pitch, but stumbles on his first step and catcher Cody Stanley does not hesitate to throw to second. Wood sees the play and is off for home on what is being credited as a delayed steal of home. He scores as St. Louis elects to take the sure out at second. Rizzo strikes out, but the Cubs now lead 1-0 after 2 and a half innings of play.
While Lackey is not pitching his best game, he continues to grind this one out, and Wood is pitching a very solid game as well. The score is still the same as Jorge Soler comes to the plate as he is getting another start as Joe Maddon continues to look for help with his struggling right field position.
Soler hits a single up the middle and Javy Baez, who has so much potential it’s frightening, but still is having trouble chasing pitches comes to bat. He gets a hanging curve and he blasts this one deep into the seats for his first big league homer! It’s high fives all around as the Cubs extend their lead 3-0. Lackey struggles a bit more, but they cannot plate another runner as the inning finally ends.
The Cardinals wasted a great opportunity in the bottom of the inning as Stanley reached on an error by third baseman Kris Bryant. He was moved to second on a sac bunt by Shane Reynolds. Still on second with two out Lackey manages to draw a walk.
Jason Heyward hits a single to center, and Reynolds is waved around third but Fowler’s throw is on the money and the runner is nailed at the plate and the final out is recorded at home, ouch!
Nothing has changed as the Cubs bat in the top of the seventh inning. Castro rips a two out double and scores as the ice cold Anthony Rizzo hits a double of his own to make the score 4-0. Bryant grounds out to end the inning and the hometown bullpen is up as the pitcher’s spot is up this inning.
The Cubs end the night with two more runs in the top of the ninth off of reliever Steve Cishek as Baez gets a leadoff double and a pair of singles by Castro and Rizzo end the scoring. The Cardinals go quietly in the ninth and the Cubs get a much needed win.
For the Cubs it was nice to see Rizzo and Fowler get a some much needed hits. Castro is probably the most consistent player so far. For Travis Wood, he continues to have a good year. He finished this game with 10 strikeouts, including a stretch late in the game of 4 in a row.
The Cardinals played this one tough all the way, and while they lost 6-0 this game was in doubt most of the way.
Around the horn:
Khris Davis of the Brewers continues to be locked in. One day after going 5 for 5 against the Cubs he went 4 for 5 with two homers as the Brewers edge the Dodgers 6-5.
Chris Heston of the Giants is somehow matching Madison Bumgarner win for win this year. Chris is now 5-0 with a 2.69 ERA.
Despite being a D starter Adam Morgan of the Phillies is 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA.