If you are reading this, there is a strong possibility you got to watch this in the comfort of your homes or a bar or not outside in Chicago. Baseball isn’t a game designed to be in cold weather. It works in October because adrenaline is a powerful thing, but in April it is just miserable. The pitchers are cold and lose control. The hitters are cold and the ball usually just dies. The fielders get to stand there and wait for the small chance the ball will get hit to them and then hope their hand isn’t frozen off when they have to throw it.
The Cardinals won a very cold game and they did it with the longest tenured Cardinal not named Yadier Molina. He looked like he struggled with his control all game, even when he was pitching well. In fact, Wainwright struck out the side in the 1st inning. He also hit Anthony Rizzo, but I mean come on. Everyone hits Anthony Rizzo. He stands on top of the plate and has decided that hit by pitches are good (which they are).
He never pitched as well as that 1st inning, though to be fair not many pitchers do. The Cubs hit the ball better in the 2nd, with ironically the weakest hit being the 1 out double by Javier Baez that was hit softly on the ground. The Cardinals played him like a pull hitter and it went down the right field line, with no threat of it being fielded.
He ran into trouble in the 3rd. He got the opposing pitcher to ground out and then Ian Happ to strike out. But then he had to actually face good hitters. He was afraid to challenge them and perhaps he had a good point. He walked Kris Bryant and then walked Rizzo. He hit Willson Contreras on an 0-1 count to load the bases. He got to 2-2 on Kyle Schwarber, who fouled off a couple pitches, before looking Beltran-esque when a curve landed nicely on the outside corner.
He gave up his first run of the game in the 4th. With one out, Addison Russell hit a chopper that Wainwright fielded behind the pitcher’s mound. He barehanded it, but threw it a little wild. Jose Martinez continued to prove he doesn’t really know how to catch balls at first base if the throws aren’t accurate. Russell advanced to second on the throw and former Cardinal Jason Heyward singled him home. After a bunt by the pitcher and a walk to Happ, Bryant hit a chopper towards third on a 2-0 count. So thanks Kris. He got two quick outs in the 5th, but then walked Schwarber and gave up a single to Baez, but got Russell to pop out to end his night.
The Cardinals offense certainly had an interesting night. Tyler Chatwood was all over the place tonight, but when he managed to throw it in the strike zone, the Cardinals usually failed to make contact. Both Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham knew he was wild, but unfortunately didn’t necessarily get the wild version. They both looked at two straight pitches right down the middle before striking out on pitches out of the zone. Matt Carpenter walked on five pitches, but Marcell Ozuna flied out.
In the 2nd, Jose Martinez and Molina walked to lead off the inning, but Chatwood then struck out the 7-8-9 hitters to prevent any sort of rally. The Cardinals began the 3rd much the same way with Fowler and Pham walking. Carpenter hit a line drive that would surely have been a homer in warmer weather, but it stopped at the tracks and drove in one run. Ozuna drove in the other by grounding out.
The Cardinals received two more walks in the 5th inning, bringing Martinez up with two outs and two on. Joe Maddon decided that was enough for Chatwood and brought in former Cardinal Steve Cishek. Cishek’s pitches were working tonight and he got Martinez to ground out. So Wainwright outpitched Chatwood and the Cardinals led 2-1 after five with both starting pitchers done for the night.
The Cardinals hit back-to-back singles off Cishek and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong walked with one out, but Fowler had a terrible plate appearance and struck out on three pitches. Pham grounded out to end the potential rally. Dominic Leone pitched the 6th and he allowed some hard contact that found gloves and struck out Happ to make it a 1-2-3 inning.
Carl Edwards Jr. pitched the 7th and struck out all three hitters he faced. Jordan Hicks pitched for the Cardinals and got Bryant, Rizzo, and Contreras out with relative ease. Pedro Strop replaced Edwards for the 8th and what looked like a quick inning quickly became a long one. With two outs, Paul DeJong managed to hit a homer into left field - no small thing in this weather. Harrison Bader pinch-hit and got on base from an infield single. Fowler walked and Pham also reached base on an infield single. With the bases loaded, Carpenter lined a rope into right center to drive two runners in to get the Cardinals some cushion.
That turned out to be important. Greg Holland still kind of doesn’t look ready and I hope he’s not ready, because if he’s not, then this is the real him. He walked the first batter he faced, then allowed a moonshot to Baez. He walked Baez before Matheny called chicken. Tyler Lyons faced one batter, Heyward, who he got to pop out. Bud Norris came in for the 5 out save. He helped his case by needing four pitches to get Tommy La Stella and Happ out. One strikeout and one first-pitch flyout.
The Cards failed to add to their lead in the 9th with the Cubs closer Brandon Morrow pitching. He was having an easy go of it, but Greg Garcia made Morrow throw 11 pitches and walked with two outs. DeJong struck out for his fourth time. Norris needed to get out the meat of the Cubs order with Bryant, Rizzo, and Contreras coming up. He struck out Bryant on three pitches and later struck Schwarber out looking to end the game! Cards win! Huge win.
- Wainwright line: 5 IP, 5 Ks, 4 BBs, 4 H, 2 HBP, 1 R (0 ER) - Not a great line and he pitched worse as the game went on, but with the cold, I’m not sure how much this game tells us about what Wainwright can give us in 2018. Hopefully better than that, because he had a couple would-be homers in warmer weather.
- Chatwood line: 4.2 IP, 7 Ks, 7 BBs, 2 ER, H - I don’t usually post opposing pitcher line’s but that’s a weird one. He only allowed one hit, but the hit came at a good time.
- Matt Carpenter, who has obviously been slumping, went 2-4 with a BB, a 2B, and 3 RBIs. He also struck out twice to be fair.
- In BB WATCH, Marcell Ozuna drew his second walk of the year and this one came on a 3-2 count. It’s getting less attention, but Yadier Molina should also be on BB WATCH, as he also drew only his second walk of the year.
- The Cardinals as a whole struck out 14 times and walked 10 times. If they hit more homers, this would truly be the epitome of modern day baseball.
- DeJong went full DeJong. He went 1-5 with 4 Ks and a HR. I mean, his batting line is somehow still above average right now so I don’t know what to make of this guy.
Tomorrow, maybe but probably not, the Cardinals play the Cubs and try to “sweep.” Sorry a 2-game series cannot possibly be a sweep. It starts at 1:20 maybe but probably not with Luke Weaver facing Jon Lester. I hope they can get the game in because I think the Cardinals have the better pitcher.