The 1st-place Cardinals entered this Mother’s Day matinee victors in 7 of their last 8 games, seeking to pull even in the season series with the 4th-place Cubs.
The Cardinals’ winning streak has been fueled by the offense. Tommy Pham, Matt Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko, and Magneuris Sierra have been tearing the cover off the ball in regular action, while Dexter Fowler and Matt Adams have done damage despite infrequent opportunities. As a whole, the Cardinals are averaging over 6 runs per game, and have scored fewer than 5 just once. It’s been fun.
The Cardinals turned to Adam Wainwright to take down Jake Arrieta and the Cubs, in what would have been a battle of the game’s best a couple years ago. Not so much anymore. While Wainwright’s strike out and walk rates are similar to his career numbers, he has been getting lit up on balls in play, evidenced by his .422 BABIP that is tops among starters. Meanwhile, Arrieta has seen a shocking, 2+ mph drop on the velocity of all his pitches. He is also getting rocked on balls in play, and has one of the worst strand rates in baseball.
Adam Wainwright did not have his command from the get-go, and the strike zone was tight. After Schwarber laced a line out to first, Ian Happ doubled to left. Rizzo walked and Russell grounded out before Wainwright leaned hard on his curveball to strike out Montero and end the early threat. He required 21 pitches.
In sharp contrast, Jake Arrieta had about as good an inning as is possible. He got Wong to ground out after 3 pitches, Pham to strike out on another 3 pitches, and Carpenter to ground out on a come-backer on the first pitch.
Wainwright recovered nicely against the bottom of the order. After Tommy La Stella singled to lead off, Wainwright got Baez to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, Arrieta to strike out, and Almora to pop out into foul territory. He was now at 34 pitches.
The Cardinals bats got going in the second. Jedd Gyorko lined a sharp single up the middle to lead off, and Yadier Molina smacked the very next pitch into the seats in left. One batter later, Randal Grichuk popped a double that one-hopped off the wall in right-center, but Sierra and Wainwright couldn’t cash him in. 2-0 Cardinals.
Wainwright lost Schwarber to a walk after battling him to a full count, but quickly erased him with a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Happ. He then got in on Rizzo’s hands and got him to fly out to center. He was up to 47 pitches.
Wong led off by taking a 2-strike slider off his back foot. Then, after Pham flew out, Carpenter broke his hitless streak against Arrieta with a towering, 2-run home run to right-center. 4-0 Cardinals.
Russell nubbed a lead off single in front of Gyorko. Then, Montero grounded into an incredible double play by Carpenter and Aledmys. Carpenter dove to his right, threw over Russell to Aledmys, who returned the ball to Wainwright with an off-balance throw. The umpire ruled Wainwright missed the base, but replay over-ruled, showing Montero missing it even more. Wong then made a great sliding play on La Stella’s ground ball to end the inning. Wainwright was at 59 pitches.
The Cardinals went quietly in the bottom half. Aledmys knocked a single up the middle, but was TOOTBLAN’d when he tried to stretch it into a double. Grichuk grounded out and Sierra flew out.
Wainwright cruised through the 5th, recording his first clean inning. He got Baez to ground out to third, Arrieta to strike out, and Almora to bounce out on a come-backer. He was at 72 pitches.
The Cardinals tried getting something going in the 5th. Tommy Pham singled through the left side with two outs, then stole second. But after Carpenter walked, Gyorko flew to left. Schwarber did not drop it.
Wainwright bent, but didn’t break in the 6th. He got Schwarber to ground out to second to lead off. But things got hairy after Happ beat out an infield single and Rizzo walked. Wainwright was then able to get Russel to ground into a 4-6 fielder’s choice, and Montero to ground out to second. He was at 90 pitches.
Arrieta ended on a high note. He struck out Molina, got Aledmys to ground out, and after Grichuk stretched a single into a double, got Sierra to pop out to the shortstop. He concluded his day at 85 pitches.
Wainwright started the 7th shakily, walking La Stella on 5 pitches. But he was able to get Baez to pop out in foul territory, Candelario (pinch-hitting for Arrieta) to fly out to left, and Almora to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Wainwright ended his day after throwing 102 pitches.
Brian Duensing entered in relief and was rudely greeted by Kolten Wong, who socked a 1-out double that hit the wall on the fly. However, Pham and Carpenter couldn’t cash him in.
Trevor Rosenthal entered, and continued his incredible season. He got Schwarber to strike out on a set of 100mph fastballs, Happ to destroy his bat flaring out on a 101mph fastball, and Rizzo to strike out looking on a knee-buckling, 88mph slider. Towels, please.
Duensing returned to try to eat another inning, but the Cardinals would not make it easy on him. After Gyorko grounded out, Yadier Molina corked his second home run of the afternoon, this time to left-center. Aledmys, Grichuk, and Magneuris Sierra followed with consecutive singles, but the lefty was able to battle back and strike out pinch-hitter Greg Garcia and Kolten Wong. 5-0 Cardinals.
Kevin Siegrist closed out the win, and had the Cubs looking nearly as bad as Rosenthal did. With a flurry of offspeed pitches and 93mph fastballs, the lefty struck out Addison Russell and Willson Contreras before getting Tommy La Stella to fly out to left. Cardinals win 5-0.
Adam Wainwright: 7IP, 0ER, 4H, 3K, 4BB. Game Score: 69 (best start this season)
Jake Arrieta: 6IP, 4ER, 7H, 5K, 1BB. Game Score: 41 (4th worst start this season)
- The Cardinals were attacking Arrieta early in the counts. Jake seemed to be having trouble missing the middle of the plate.
- While Carpenter was 0-28 prior to his 3rd inning home run, he had a hit against Arrieta in the 2015 NLDS.
- Wainwright had recorded just 5 outs beyond the 5th inning this season. He recorded 6 of them today.
- Rosenthal looks like he’s about 100% healthy again.
- Yadi’s 2nd home run was the 111th of his career, tying him with Scott Rolen for 18th in Cardinal history. Carpenter’s home run was his 81st, moving him ahead of Keith Hernandez into sole possession of 27th in Cardinal history.
The Cubs have fallen below .500 for the first time since 4/10/15.