Lance Lynn (4-1, 3.60 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 3.27 xFIP) takes on the Cubs and Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.08 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 3.57 xFIP) in one of those Wrigley night games that so annoys the neighbors.
The Cardinals are in the middle of a 9 game road trip. They still have stops against the Braves and Pirates before getting back to Busch. The Cardinals haven't been on the road this much to start the season (26 of their first 38 games) since 1927. They weren't on the road this often while they were still building the stadium in 2006. After the Pittsburgh visit, they'll be home for 19 of 22 games.
Mark Ellis is in again against a right handed pitcher. Yadier Molina bumped up to provide damage in the 2 hole. Randal Grichuk gets the start in center.
Matt Carpenter got things off to a nice start with a single into left field. Yadi then drove a middle-middle fastball to deep right. It looked like it might get down, but the ball hung up just enough for Nate Schierholtz to track it down. Carpenter had already rounded second base, and was doubled off at first. Matt Holliday drove another deep to left, but was out at the warning track. It was going to be one of those games.
In the second, Jhonny Peralta drew a fat, lazy, two-out walk. Grichuk drove in Jholtin' Jhonny by ripping a triple past Cubs' center fielder Emilio Bonifacio that bore into the dead, brown, ugly ivy. No word on if any former Cubs players were found therein. Ellis then hit a well-placed liner into left-center gap for an RBI double. 2-0 good guys.
In the bottom of the frame Matt Holliday made a nice running catch in the LF corner off Schierholtz.
In the third after a two-out Holliwalk, Matt Adams (SBN won't tag SMASH! ATOMS! correctly. More's the pity) hit a deep fly off the LF wall for a double, driving in Holliday and tallying a MMI. SMASH! took third on the throw in a close play at the bag. 3-0 valiant champions of rightness.
The bottom of the third was rough for Lynn, after ticking along nicely in the first two innings. Lance walked opposing pitcher Hammel with one out, just missing the outside corner on each ball. He would follow that up with consecutive walks to Bonifacio and Valbuena, loading the bases. The Cubbies were unable to capitalize as Anthony Rizzo flew out to center, too short to advance the runners, and Starlin Castro flew out to right.
There would be more trouble waiting for Lynn in the fourth. Ryan Kalish reached on a single, and Lance issued a walk to John Baker. With two outs, and seemingly about to work out of another jam, pitcher (he's a pitcher, right? right.) Jason Hammel stroked a single into right. Craig was unable to play it cleanly and both baserunners scored. 3-2 birdinals.
Lance made quick work of the 5th and 6th, striking out 3. The only baserunner to reach was on a Matt Carpenter error at third when he was unable to cleanly field a Kalish grounder. Initially called out at first, the play was challenged and overturned on review.
The seventh was frustrating for the Cardinals, facing Carlos Villanueva. Bonifacio made a nice diving grab on Ellis to start things off. Jon Jay continued his BABIP comeback tour by chopping one behind the plate and up the third base line for a single. In yet another challenge play, Carpenter reached on an infield grounder to second that a diving Darwin Barney was able to knock down. But with two on and one out, Yadi grounded into a 5-3 double play on his first pitch, ending the inning.
Carlos Martinez took the Cardinals' half of the seventh and got two quick outs before allowing a triple into the right field corner to Valbuena. After getting behind on Rizzo, Martinez put him on to face Starlin Castro. After getting ahead 0-1 on Castro, Martinez uncorked a curveball that landed in the dirt and scooted between Yadi's legs for a wild pitch. Valbuena scored and the game was knotted at 3-3. Your intrepid recap writer was not amused. Thankfully, Carlos dispatched Castro, getting him to chase a curveball outside. Martinez was charged with a blown save, and Lynn denied his 5th win.
In the bottom of the 8th, Kevin Siegrist struck out the side 1-2-3 on 14 pitches.
With Hector Rondon in for the Cubs in the 9th, Grichuk drew a walk. Ellis hit a single to left to put two on with one out. Peter Bourjos put in a cameo appearance, working a 9 pitch at bat, but striking out. Matt Carpenter walked on four straight to load the bases for
Yodi Yadi. Molina batted, fouling off several pitches before hitting a ground ball up the middle that just eluded the glove of a diving Starlin Castro. Two runs scored and the paladins of all that is right and good in the world regained the lead 5-3. Much woooooing ensued.
Trevor Rosenthal was called upon to lock things down in the bottom of the 9th. After striking out Darwin Barney and getting pinch-hitter Welington Castillo to ground out, the game looked to be in hand. But no, it just couldn't be that easy. Bonifacio drew a walk (everything missing high), then Valbuena hit a liner just past the outstretched glove of Matt Holliday in left for an RBI double. Suddenly it's 5-4, and the Cubs are within a run with a runner in scoring position. But Trevor got Anthony Rizzo to rollover on a changeup and ground out to first to end the game. Whew.
Highest WPA: Molina .201, Ellis .159, Lynn .155
Lowest WPA: Martinez -.147, Craig -.142, Bourjos -.103
The Next Game
Shelby Miller and the Birdos fly into Atlanta to take on Aaron Harang and the Braves tomorrow at 6:10 Central, kicking off the second series of this road trip. Harang had been the NL ERA leader until he was torched for 9 ER against the Marlins in his last start.
The Game Notes
Scorecard courtesy Thirty81Project.com