Whomever wrote the old proverbial chestnut: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” was neither a Cubs nor Cards fan. The two rivals last played 51 days ago on June 9th, and I’m positive the hearts of Cards fans everywhere have grown nothing but colder toward the small bears. In that last meeting, the Redbirds were unceremoniously swept out of Wrigley onto a cracked, sticky Wrigleyville sidewalk, begging for wins.
My, what a mere Willie McGee jersey number of days can do. Tonight the Central foes found themselves tied for first entering a 3-game showdown at the Busch III Corral with Adam Wainwright taking the ball in the first contest. It’s difficult to express what one could expect from Uncle Charlie.
How difficult? Like, this difficult:
Which Waino would we witness? Wiley Waino willing wee WHIP? Wonky Waino winging wild walks?
For example, Adam’s deepest run in any game this season came against the Cubs on June 2nd at home: 8 IP, 0 R, 8 K, 2 H, 7 BB.
His briefest outing was July 19 at Cincy: 3.1 IP, 7 R, 4 K, 9 H, 0 BB
His July 14 game vs Arizona at home was nice: 7 IP, 0 Runs, 7 K, 4 H, 1 BB
Overall, he’s been much better at home:
Home: 54 IP; 14 ER; 3.06 K/BB
Road: 49 IP; 39 ER; 1.87 K/BB
The Cubs countered with Yu Darvish, who still gets strikeouts (10.3 K/9) but also sports a 4.85 FIP. Overall, the Cubs as a team come in with a +71 Run Differential; the Cards at +19. It’s not about by how many, it’s about by enough.
Where’s Yairo? In Memphis, giving Bader practice watching him play center. (I kid, I kid.) He’s on the bench at Busch, pestering Shildt about not starting.
Ever had a long, often contentious relationship? Then you part ways, and years later, you run into that person again at that place with the thing with those other people? And enough time passed that you’re really not angry enough with them any more to verbalize it, but; yet, you know it’s still there underneath? So you both tiptoe around it with banal conversation?
That was the start of this game.
Getting to Re-Know You - Both pitchers were in command early, as the teams traded zeros through the first three frames, with neither side forging any real threats. Highlights in the early going was the 7-pitch first inning Waino had, dismissing the Cubbies like it was 2010, and more nifty glove work by Kolten in the third when he shoveled a slow roller with his glove to Goldy.
Darvish wielded his 6-pitch assortment well, keeping the Cards hitters off balance. Kolten Wong managed a 2-out single in the second, but the Cards’ allotted outs expired that inning before he could advance. Edman doubled the Cards hit total in the third by sending a two-out curve up the middle for a single, proving he learned from his first at-bat strikeout on a similar pitch. He then stole second but was stranded by Dex.
First in the Fourth - The fourth brought more action, as both clubs broke through against each other. Heyward led off by shooting a sub-90’s fastball on a line to right that Martinez actually played well off the wall and fired into second to keep the runner at first. Dex couldn’t reflect that same good D on the next play, as Bryant flew out to deep-ish slight right-center that Dex couldn’t get back in to prevent Hayward from tagging up to second. Rizzo then bounced a grounder to third, advancing Heyward to third with two out. Baez then got lucky, hitting a decent curve off the end of the bat but looping it into left in front of O’Neill scoring Heyward for a 1-0 Cubs lead. Waino regrouped to get Caratini to ground out to Wong on the grass.
Martinez led off the Cards’ half by zinging a single to right of center, gaining a measure of revenge for Darvish slinging 2 previous pitches up (way up) near his very high noggin’. Goldy then flared a tailing fly ball to right that Cafecito read perfectly, chugging to third against the rocket-armed Heyward, beating the throw, which ended with Bryant losing his glove.
With first and third no one out, DeJong got down 0-2 and waived fruitlessly on a splitter that got away from the catcher but bounced back hard off the brick backstop near him. With first base occupied, DeJong was out, but Goldy advanced. On the next pitch, Darvish cranked off another wild pitch that this time allowed Martinez to score, tying the game 1-1.
With one out, Wong flew out to shallow left-center, not nearly deep enough for Goldy to tag up from third. TON then stepped in looking for a 2-out tie-breaking hit but whiffed on an elevated fastball a bit atop the zone.
Fidgety/Frustrating Fifth - Adam started showing inklings of ineffectiveness creeping up in the fifth. Not that the Cubs threatened; rather, it made you give Adam the side eye for a sec. Cards fans held their collective breath briefly during Schwarber’s leadoff at bat, as he banged a high fastball to deep-ish left, but it died in front of the track. But then Adam dispatched Ian Happ on one pitch via pop-out to DeJong on the grass behind short. Then Waino inexplicably walked Darvish on his first 3-ball pitch of the night and his first walk. With bad mojo written all over that event, Waino came back to strikeout leadoff man Garcia on a nice curve.
Wieters led off by just missing one, clubbing a deep fly-out to left. Waino then struck out on 3 straight breaking balls. Tommy Edman, however, smacked his second single of the night, then stole second on the very next pitch, giving Dex a chance at a 2-out run. Dex battled Darvish for 7 pitches; alas, that 7th one was a swinging strike to kill the mini rally.
Silver and Gold(y) Sixth - Adam entered the 6th at 78 pitches and what felt like a make-or-break 6th. It didn’t start well, as Hayward greeted Adam by slicing a dull cutter that hung out over the plate to left for a single.
But on a 3-2 pitch to Kris Bryant, the Cards pulled off gold-glove level defense on an elite strike-’em-out/throw ‘em out double play. Waino yanked a curve in the dirt to Wieter’s right, who snagged it cleanly then fired to second, where Kolten repeated the glove work, digging out the catcher’s off-line one-hop throw and applying a quick sweep-tag to nail the runner.
That saved a run, as Rizzo next doubled to center on a full-count pitch. With first base open, they intentionally walked Baez to get to Caratini, who un-intentinally walked on four straight pitches.
That loaded the bases, brought up Schwarber, and motivated Shildt out of the dugout to swap Waino for a newer, younger model in Gallegos to extinguish the fire before it burned the Cards for any runs and leaving a mark. Waino exited at 95 pitches.
With good splits against lefties, the Cards were confident. See if you can judge by Waino’s reaction what the result was:
In the bottom half, after Martinez grounded to short, Darvish finally threw a mistake middle-middle pitch that Goldy pounced on to uncork his 25th (the sliver anniversary) homer to left! 2-1 Cards!
An added benefit was Schwarber’s hilarious wall-scale fail (though not as great as Ozuna’s):
DeJong then grounded out to third for the second out. Wong kept the inning alive by getting plunked on the left knee. On the first pitch to O’Neill, Kolten had second stolen easily, but TON fouled it off. A visibly annoyed Kolten returned to first and stayed there as Tyler popped out to second.
SuperSub Seventh - Gallegos stayed in to start the 7th, but walked the first hitter Happ. He recovered to get pinch-hitter Albert Almora, Jr. on a flout to left and struck out leadoff man Garcia looking on a high and in slider. With Gallegos’ spot due up second in the 7th, Shildt double-switched, brining in Andrew Miller to face Heyward, and...wait for it...Super
StarterSub Yairo Munoz to replace Dex in center Tyler in left.
Heyward hit a hard grounder that bounced off the end of Goldschmidt’s glove. He had gone down on one knee an an unsuccessful backhand. The ball caromed to Kolten, but he couldn’t bare-hand it for the throw. Everything was cool, though, as Miller got Bryant to fly out to right center on the very next pitch.
The Cards went quietly, as Matt Wieters struck out swinging against new Cubs pitcher Rowan Wick. Pinch-hitter Munoz entered and grounded out to Baez on the first pitch. Edman then got schooled on an up and in curve he was not expecting for the third out.
Magic 8-Ball Inning - “All Signs Point to W” - Miller Time was extended to the 8th. He got Rizzo to fly out to Munoz in left, struck out Baez swinging,...then unfortunately walked Caratini. David Bote pinch-ran for the catcher Caratini. That brought up Schwarber. Miller went to 3-0 (third pitch coulda been called a strike). The fourth pitch was a ball but was called a strike for the ol’ makeup call. It was moot, as he walked him anyway for back-to-back free passes.
That prompted a call to the pen to bring in El Gallo who threw three changeups interrupted by one 98 mph fastball to strike him out swinging.
Gull-winged righty reliever and former Cardinal Steve Cishek entered for the Cubs. Hitless in three trips, Dex this time made excellent contact, but sent a hard grounder into the shift in short right for out 1. Next hitter Martinez, took advantage of a 3-0 count and a Bryant mis-glove to bounce a hard grounder to left between third and short. With Lane Thomas pinch-running for Martinez, Cishek air-mailed a pickoff throw, sending him to second. Goldy then smacked a hard-luck hard-hit grounder to short for out 2. Pauly G stepped in looking to knock in an insurance run and get his first hit of the night. Cishek got him out in front of a slow slider, and he popped out to short.
Night-Night Ninth - Carlos Martinez stayed in to close out the game. Maddon sent pinch-hitter Willson Contreras up, who went down hacking at 99 mph gas up in the zone. Robel Garcia was also retired swinging, earning the Golden Sombrero with his 4th strikeout of the night. Last-chance Heyward bounced an easy grounder to Kolten for the final out!
BOTTOM NINTH NOT APPLICABLE
2-1 Cards win!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Waino was eh-no, but he survived 5.2 innings: 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB (1 IBB), 5 Ks
- The back-to-back walks from Miller in the 8th made for 6 walk since the 5th inning
- Weird Stat of the Game: Cards were 0-7 with RISP; Cubs were 1-6.
- Non-RISP runs came from Goldy’s 25th homer and Martinez scoring on a wild pitch
Baseball stats are fun!
- I love watching Schwarber playing left field.
- Cubs and Cards do it all over again tomorrow night, 7:15 CT with Mikolas vs. Hendricks