Well that was awesome. Also stressful. And a few other adjectives to denote early death. This isn't even the playoffs! BUT WHO CARES THE CARDINALS BEAT THE CUBS! To sum up the game in simple terms, Adam Wainwright pitched better than Jason Hammel and since both bullpens were perfect, that meant the Cardinals won the game. It wasn't a pretty win, but who cares? A win is a win is a win.
The Cubs struck first in the 1st after the Cardinals went down real easy with a strikeout and two groundouts to the pitcher on eight total pitches by Hammel. Wainwright struggled with command all evening, and it was pretty much an immediate thing too. He gave up a leadoff hit to Chris Coghlan and then walked Jason Heyward. Since that brought up Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist, it's safe to say escaping the 1st with one run was an accomplishment. However, it's possible he shouldn't have even given up the run. Bryant flew out to right center, and Kolten Wong sort of "stole" the ball from Stephen Piscotty. Piscotty was in position and may have prevented Coghlan from going to third. Instead, Wong caught the ball on a dead run going towards the right field foul line so there was no question Coghlan could easily make it to third. Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly to Wong and Wong made a decent, if a bit loopy, throw home. It's probably safe to say that Wong's arm won't be an issue in CF no matter how many times the broadcast talks about how he has a second baseman's arm. Zobrist ended the inning by grounding out.
The Cardinals responded the very next half inning. Piscotty led off with a line drive double towards right center that I'm surprised Heyward couldn't corral, but it's possible Piscotty makes it to second anyway. With two outs and Piscotty on third, Moss hit a line drive to the right side of the infield. Even though they were shifting, he hit it hard enough and in the right place to make it to the outfield scoring the first run. A walk by Wong brought Wainwright to the plate. Wainwright was very aggressive at the plate tonight, but he lined out to short to end the inning.
In the 3rd, Hammel had some more issues when Matt Carpenter led off with a home run to center field. A fantastic 10-pitch PA by Aledmys Diaz resulted in a single to left field. Matt Holliday then deposited a home run of his own to make it 4-1 Cards. From there, it was just a matter of protecting the lead. It didn't go well at first. A walk to Coghlan and a double by Heyward brought it two 4-2 after just two batters the following inning. But Wainwright was able to get the 3-4-5 hitters out in succession without allowing the 3rd run.
In the 4th, back-to-back singles by Willson Contreras and Addison Russell brought runners to 1st and 3rd, but a double play ball by Albert Almora Jr. ended their threat and plated their third run of the game. In the 5th, Wainwright faced the top-of-the-order and hypothetically given that this was the 3rd time through the order, you take Wainwright out. Hypothetically. In a regular season game, it's hard to complain especially since Seth Maness is probably coming in if you take him out and... I'm not sure that's even better than Wainwright on an off-night facing a good lineup for the 3rd time. Surprisingly - to me at least - he got the 1-2-3 batters out on 9 pitches.
Hammel's night ended in the 6th after he gave up a leadoff single to Piscotty and subsequently got the next two guys out. Probably because Moss was batting. They brought in a LOOGY for him, Gerardo Concepcion. While Moss' numbers against lefties aren't too bad, he ended up striking out to end the inning.
Then came the peculiar bottom of the 7th. Wainwright allowed a leadoff double to Russell to begin the inning. He got Almora to fly out and then got pinch-hitter Miguel Montero to weakly ground out to 1st. And then... he brought in Jonathan Broxton. To face Coghlan. A notoriously bad hitter against lefties. Heyward was also on deck. Heyward is also not a very good hitter against lefties. But Broxton was in. And he walked Coghlan on four straight pitches. He got Heyward to ground out to first thankfully, although that's generous. More accurately, Moss made a diving play to save a run.
Strop and Siegrist traded scoreless innings in the 8th. Both lacked control - Strop hit Diaz and Siegrist walked Rizzo - but both got away with it. Strop struck out two guys and Siegrist induced a double play. After Travis Wood got a 1-2-3 inning for the Cubs, it was Trevor Rosenthal time. So we're just never going to have a comfortable 9th inning again, huh? He struck out Contreras, but then allowed a line drive single to Russel. Hey BABIP gods, want to do Rosenthal a solid and not have EVERY BALL HIT IN PLAY BECOME A HIT? Thanks. After he struck out Almora, he lost control again and walked Javier Baez. You know, the dude with a 3.8 BB% who swung at a 3-0 pitch. That's not easy to do. Matt Szczur ended the game with a groundout to Diaz.
- Despite the theatrics, Rosenthal really did look way better tonight than he did last night. I mean tonight he looked like he got the save, whereas last night, he looked like he sacrificed a lamb beforehand.
- Wainwright final line: 6.2 IP, 4 Ks, 3 BBs, 6 hits allowed, 3 ER - The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was having Wainwright not allow a home run at Wrigley Field.
- HR count: Carpenter hit his 11th home run and Holliday hit his 13th home run. Home runs are good, generally speaking. The Cardinals hit more home runs than the Cubs and guess who won?
- Wong looks way better, hitting-wise, than he did before he got sent down. But, uh, can we start Tommy Pham in CF tomorrow? I'm ok with the CF experiment - I am - but in Wrigley against the Cubs I'd like to not sacrifice runs. It's not like Wong has a great bat we are missing here.
- The Cardinals are better than the Cubs. This is a fact.
Tomorrow the Cardinals go for the sweep with Jake Arietta facing off against Michael Wacha. This seems like a clear Cubs win, but Wacha has been lights out recently and the Cardinals have shown an ability to hit Arietta. I like our chances as well as any game really.