The Cardinals and Cubs take the field for a weekend series at Busch tonight. It’s the 2,405 meeting between the friendly/hated rivals as the Cubbies look to get revenge on the Redbirds after a three-game sweep by St. Louis at the beginning of May. In that series the Cardinals walked off twice, including a rain-delay, extra-inning, nationally televised game that ended with Dexter Fowler walking-off against his former team. Tonight’s matchup is between two of the best in the National League. Michael Wacha vs. Jon Lester. St. Louis vs. Chicago. It’s rivalry weekend at Busch! Let’s ride.
Michael Wacha on the bump tonight and he has not been spectacular against the Cubs in his career. He has a 4-7 record with a 6.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 17-career games against the North Siders. Wacha retires Almora Jr. and Kris Bryant before Rizzo hits a single down the third base line. Rizzo gets caught in what looks to be a sure out on the base paths but instead of throwing to second Wacha makes a mental error and throws to first, and the throw is wide and it goes into foul territory. Rizzo makes it all the way to third on Wacha’s first error of the season. Wacha battle’s back and is able to get Wilson Contreras to ground out. Error number one doesn’t come back to bite the Birds.
Jon Lester has been superb versus St. Louis in his 13-year career. He has carried a 6-4 record with 2.22 ERA in 16 career games against the Cardinals. The Redbirds go down 1-2-3 in the first. No score.
Wacha walks Javy Baez with one out and the Cubs have their second baserunner of the game. On a hit-run, Addy Russell lines out to Harrison Bader in right and the Cardinals are able to double up Baez. We move to the bottom of the frame.
Yadier Molina gets a five-pitch walk and the Cardinals have their first baserunner of the game. Luke Voit hits a screamer at Bryant and it gobbles him up. Two on, two out with Munoz at the plate. Javy Baez makes a nice play and the Cardinals threat is over. No score.
Lead-off BOMB for Ian Happ. That one was wayyy out of there, 418 feet to right center to be exact. Cubs take a one run lead. A base hit by Almora Jr. puts one on for Kris Bryant and the former-MVP takes Wacha deep to left center for the Cubs second home run of the inning. Then the craziest thing happened. Anthony Rizzo got hit-by-a-pitch. I know right?! Fielders choice moves Rizzo to second but Wacha retires Schwarber and the damage is done, thankfully.
Michael Wacha leads thing off with a ground-out but what just a second, Wacha hustles down the line and beats it out. Cardinals have a lead-off runner here in the third and that’s the first Cardinals hit tonight as well. Lester retires Carpenter then Bader is able to spoil a double-play with his speed. Then Bader gets picked-off. Not by Lester I should mention, but by Contreras. Cardinals base running woes continue. 3-0 Cubs.
Lead-off base hit for Javy Baez and the Cubs offense is rolling early. Things are unravelling quickly for the Cardinals in the fourth. Cubs get a few runners on base and a sacrifice bunt by Lester turns into a throwing error by Yadi and a run scoring. A sac fly by Amora Jr. scores another run and this is getting ugly fast. Wacha is up to 68 pitches through four innings.
Cardinals are on the board after a line drive from Ozuna kept rising until it hit the back of the Cubs bullpen. Ozuna is up to nine home runs on the season tied for the most on the team. Molina with a single to left and the Cardinals have back-to-back hits in the fourth, but Gyroko grounds into an inning ending double play and the Cardinals rally is over. 5-1 Cubs.
Lead-off double for Rizzo and we know lead-off hits led to good things for the Cubs last inning. Wacha walks Contreras and the Cubs have two on, no out. Kyle Schwaber swings at one up near his shoulders and puts it sixty feet up the batters eye in center. Wacha’s struggles against Chicago continue. He walks the next batter, Baez, and that’s the night for Michael. Wacha goes four and a third, gives up eight earned runs on seven hits, walks four and strikes out two. Mike Mayers takes over and promptly gives up a double to Addison Russell and Baez scores all the way from first. This Cubs lineup is strong and relentless. The score swells after an Almora Jr. double and the ninth Cub comes to plate this inning. Bryant knocks in Almora Jr. but is thrown out trying to go for two. The top of the fifth is over. It’s a lot to a little.
The Cardinals are going to try and play baseball after that miserable top half of the fifth. Voit pulls a promising ball down the line but Bryant makes a spectacular grab and it’s just one of those nights for the Cards. 11-1 Cubs.
Brett Cecil is in the game. This should be fun. Rizzo collects his third hit of the night, he’s 3-for-3. But, Brett Cecil makes me eat crow. He keeps the Cubs off the scoreboard for the first time since the second inning. Nice job, Brett! Let’s keep things positive everyone.
Matt Carpenter leads off the inning with a home run to left center! Both Cardinals’ runs are off solo home runs this evening. Ozuna knocks a single to left and he’s 2-for-3 tonight. He stays hot in the absence of Jose Martinez. Matheny makes a good move and pitch runs for Ozuna with Greg Garcia. Ozuna’s night is done and the sixth inning is in the books. 11-1 Cubs.
Cubs pinch hit for Lester and his night is over. He pitches six innings, gives up two earned runs on five hits, strikes out three and walks one. Cubs load the bases with one out and Bryant comes to the plate. He hits a sac fly to center and Chicago adds another. Cecil is able to get out of the inning though. Stretch time.
Cardinals get a pair of two out hits in the seventh and Matt Carpenter drives both of them in with a single to right. Wow, watch out Cubs! Here come the Cardinals! They cut the lead down to eight. 12-4 Cubs.
Our ole friend Matt Bowman enters the game in the eighth. A scoreless inning from Bowman is quite the sight for soar eyes.
Tommy Pham DING-DONG. That’s three home runs for the Cardinals tonight, all in the solo variety. Cardinals still down a touchdown and extra-point. 12-5 Cubs.
John Brebbia is in the game and he has been Mr. Reliable for the Cardinals as of late. Obviously, this is not a pressure situation but it’s nice to have someone in the pen that can pitch an inning without getting absolutely shelled, which has been has been pretty common this season. Brebbia does give up a run on a sac fly so I guess I jinxed but I mean one run doesn’t mean a whole lot in a game like tonight’s. We had to the bottom of the ninth. Let’s just get this over with.
Joe Maddon makes a pitching change in the middle of the ninth because he hates me and wants me to watch this game until I perish. John Brebbia is hitting though and he wants to go YARD. He is swinging like his life depends on it and why not? He hits a dribbler to short and sprints down the line, he’s out by four steps. He even asks the ump if he was safe or not. John Brebbia is moving up the ranks of favorite player in my book. Carpenter is the final hope(?) for the Cardinals in ninth. He walks. Bader lines out and this nightmare is over. Cubs win 13-5. Fly that godforsaken W.
Kyle Hendricks takes on Carlos Martinez in FOX’s game of the week tomorrow at 7:15 p.m. Let’s hope for better results tomorrow or it’s going to be a long weekend in St. Louis.