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Cards Breeze by Cubbies 7-3 with a Dozen Hits and Shut-Down ‘Pen

Tots’ 5 total bases means he’s good again, I guess.

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
Ain’t no thing.
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Heavy Hearts in Cards Nation: Hall of Famer Lou Brock Died This Afternoon at 81

I’ve only ever had one autograph from a pro ballplayer: Lou Brock’s. My Dad used to work for an advertising agency in downtown St. Louis, and Lou was in the building one day for some kind of meeting. My Dad happened to catch him in the elevator, and Lou signed a calendar-size Cards schedule that featured his picture, in base-stealing mode of course.

Dad brought it home and presented it to me, and I couldn’t believe he actually had met the great Lou Brock.

The teams held a moment a silence before the game.

Lefty vs. Righty

In Game 4 of this 5-game Cubs series, El Birdos faced veteran lefty John Lester for the first time this season. The 36-year-old has not fared well in 2020, coming in with a 5.11 ERA and 5.06 FIP over 37 innings across 7 starts. He still doesn’t walk many, as his BB/9 is 1.9, but he’s striking out fewer (6.10/9) and giving up homers at a rate (1.7 HR/9) nearly twice that of his career average of 0.9.

Taking the ball for the Redbirds was Dakota Hudson, who had been scheduled to start yesterday but got pushed back a day when Kwang Hyun Kim went on the DL. He’s hoping to echo his excellent previous start August 31st against the Red, when he went 7 strong innings, gave up just one earned run on 4 hits, struck out 7, waked none, and kept the ball in the yard.

Right? Right.

Mike Shildt stuffed his lineup with as many righties (or switch-hitters) as he could find, with Kolten the sole south-swinger. That translated into a rare start for Harrison Bader, who last jogged onto the field at the very beginning of a contest 8 days ago on August 29. His outfield buddies were fellow righties Tyler O’Neill in LF and Lane Thomas in RF.

Rarer still was a start (or an appearance of any kind) for Rangel Ravelo, who was your DH tonight. Rangel started on July 29 and was placed on the COVID list 6 days later on August 5th. He was just activated last Wednesday, Sept 2nd.

Matt Carpenter sat, so Tommy played third.

The Bird’s-Eye View

The wind at Wrigley is often part of the story, and it certainly was in the early going. It was blowing out toward left-center at 16 mph, and it made for all sorts of entertainment. You never have enough runs in that environment, and the Cards took that to heart, earning $.50 drinks for happy fans in The Lou.

In addition to leveraging that wind for two homers, the Cards put runners on in six of the 9 innings. And while that was a fine sight, they K’d 11 times on the night while walking just 2 times. But when you get 12 hits, your bound to bunch some of those for multiple run-scoring innings, and that’s what they did.

The Cubs had 2 homers as well: a solo shot and a 2-run job, but they couldn’t figure out how to score otherwise against stout Cardinals pitching.

Tommy Edman and Anthony Rizzo traded punches in the first inning. And by punches, I mean solo homers, both out to center. Jason Kipnis got one of his own in the 2nd, but it was the 2-run variety to right-center that put the Cubs up briefly 3-1.

But the Cards went off the board and mixed in a HBP, single, 2 doubles (and oh, sure a long homer by Goldy) in the third, scoring 4, batting around in the process.

After the sides traded zeros in the fourth and fifth, the Cards tacked two more on in the sixth, with a 3 singles, a double, and a Cub throwing error to make it 7-3.

After giving up the early two homers, Dakota Hudson buckled down to keep the Cubs off the board for the next 3 frames. It was a grind, however, as he went to a full count against 6 batters, bloating his pitch count. He reached 101 pitches after 5, so Shildt pulled him.

No prob. The Young Guns ‘pen had you covered. Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, and Giovanni Gallegos kept the Cubs off the board the rest of the way, giving up just 1 hit, and striking out 8: Reyes had 3 in 1.2 IP; Cabrera had 4 in his 1.1 IP of work (3 of which came in the 8th on 3-straight Ks of Rizzo, Baez, and Schwarber after giving up a lead-off double to Bryant), and Gio had just one—but it was for the final out!

The Flight Path

Top of 1st (In Play, Run(s)) - Weird, then wonderful!

On a wacky first at-bat, on a full count, Wong got jammed badly and popped it up in foul territory beyond first. Neither Rizzo nor catcher Willson Contreras could find it, and the wind blew it back fair, and it bounced off the dirt near first, and Rizzo gloved it and tagged the bag. Kolten had assumed it was going to be foul and did not run. He woulda been safe.

That woulda been cool, because Tommy Edman slammed the very first pitch he saw into the seats in center (400 ft, 107 mph EV) for a quick 1-0 lead!

Seeing that successful strategy, Paul Goldschmidt attacked his pitch 1, but it didn’t go nearly as far, as he grounded it to Javier Baez at short for out 2. Paul DeJong next worked a walk on six pitches to extend the inning for Canadian Strongman Tyler O’Neill with 2 outs. TON got to 3-2 but waved over a 73 mph curve to end the inning.

Bottom of 1st (In Play, Run(s)) - Ian Happ didn’t homer! (But Rizzo did.)

Ian Happ led off and grounded out to Goldy as Dakota covered. Cool! Kris Bryant then got rung up on 2-2 sinker that came back over the edge of the zone for a called strike three.

Alas, the clean inning was not to be, as Anthony Rizzo cranked a homer to center on actually a good pitch, an 0-1 curve away and below the zone, to suddenly tie the game at one.

Baez got Dakota to a full count and lost him, as free-swinger Javier amazingly did not swing at a down-and-away slider in the dirt.

Kyle Schwarber then hit into the shift, as Kolten Wong fielded a grounder in short right and threw out the burly batter to end the inning.

Top of 2nd - 3 up, 3 down.

Ravelo knocked off the rust and hit a hard a liner to dead center, but it was right at Ian Happ for the first out (93 mph EV, 331 ft). Yadi followed that up by popping out to second baseman Kipnis in short right, with the wind first playing with it for a bit. Lane Thomas finished the frame by grounding to Baez at short and just getting beat by the throw.

Bottom of 2nd (In Play, Run(s)) - Another Solo Dinger

Dakota issued his second walk, giving Contreras a lead-off free pass, but the ump helped, missing 2 called balls that were strikes at the knees. On a full count to Jason Heyward, the Cubs sent Contreras on the pitch, and it kept them out of the double play, as Heyward hit a sharp grounder to Kolten, who had just the play at first.

David Both next gave a first-pitch 92 mph four-seamer a ride to deep center that Bader gloved a step in front of the track, as Contreras tagged and advanced to third. Now with two out and another full count, Jason Kipnis took a slider middle at the knees into the bleachers in right-center to put the Cubs on top 2-1.

Happ was retired, though, for the second time tonight, as Dakota induced him to fly out to shallow left, with O’Neill calling off Tommy, who was shifted into the shortstop position from third.

Top of 3rd (In Play, Runs) - When you bat around, good things happen!

Harrison Bader took an 0-2 pitch on the leg to get on board and bring up the top of the lineup in Kolten.

Wong came through by slicing a liner down the left-field line for a double. Schwarber got to it quickly enough to prevent Bader, who rounded third but was instructed back to third. Edman then hit an 0-1 change-up, grounding it only at 76 mph EV to Baez at short. Bader went on contact, and the talented Baez nailed him at the plate, as Tommy reached.

Now with first and second, one out, Goldy un-LEASHED a no-doubt bomb out of Wrigley onto Waveland Avenue (for a 3-run dinger to make it 4-3 Cards! Goldy must’ve busted the HR Tracker Machine, as I couldn’t find anywhere that registered the distance or EV.

Lester came back to strike out DeJong looking at a 89 four-seamer a bit out of the zone, that displeased Pauly D greatly. TON followed by singling on a line up the middle to keep the inning going. Rangel Ravelo then came up big, getting his first hit this season, banging a double off the base of the ivy in right-center, allowing the speedy strongman to scoot home to bump the lead to 5-3!

Yadier Molina then worked a walk on six pitches to make it first and second with 2 out for Lane Thomas. Lester, however, dispatched the Lane Train quickly, striking him out on three pitches.

Bottom of 3rd - No balls left the yard!

Kris Bryant started the inning in an exciting way, striking out on three pitches, watching the last one zips by for a called strike. Rizzo fortunately didn’t get enough launch angle on his liner to left (103 mph EV, 334 ft) that stayed in the park and into Tyler’s glove for out 2.

Baez then lofted a fly-ball out to right on a 3-1 pitch that Dakota got in on his hand just enough, as Lane caught it for the final out.

Top of 4th - Lester remained in (briefly). Bader led off for the second inning in a row. Cool. Cards wasted a lead-off double. Not cool.

Ninth-place hitter Tots banged a double to right-center on a 2-0 pitch to pick things up right where the Cards left off in the run-scoring third. Kolten, unfortunately, left his at-bat with Tot still at second, as Wong K’d swinging on a 2-2 sinker four out 1.

That was Lester’s 67th pitch, and with the big boppers coming up, he exited the game, relenting to righty reliever Dan Winkler.

Tommy hacked at a 2-0 high-inside cutter, getting jammed and pulling it softly to second for out 2 as Bader scampered to third. Goldy couldn’t come up with the 2-out RISP hit, as he grounded out to Baez.

Bottom of 4th - The Cubs threatened, but were thwarted.

Schwarber banged a hard grounder, but Wong gloved it, making it seem easy, throwing him out to start the inning. Contreras got jammed but got enough good wood to loft a soft liner into left for a single. Dakota got ahead of Heyward 0-2 then finished off on pitch three, striking him out on a sinker way outside for out 2. Dakota should’ve been out of the inning next as Bote grounded one up the middle that Pauly gloved cleanly to his left. His footwork was a bit off, and that threw off the rhythm of the play, as he couldn’t get it out of his glove cleanly. That was enough time for a close play at first. Bote was called safe, the Cards asked for a review, but it confirmed the safe call.

Dakota then went full against Kipnis. So with the runners going, Dakota got him to chase a curve in the dirt down and in for the final out.

Top of 5th - Cameron Maybin replaced Heyward in RF, due to illness. A lead-off single produced no additional excitement.

Pauly D led off with a liner to left for a single. Tyler got jammed on a cutter yet sent it 309 feet toward the well in right that Maybin caught for out 1. Winkler struck out Ravelo and Yadi flew out to right to end the frame with Pauly left on first.

Bottom of 5th - Third Time Through the Order Alert!

Dakota got into Happ’s kitchen, busting his bat, sending a grounder to second that Wong, playing in short-right field, charged, gloved, and threw to first for the out. Dakota next got ahead of Bryant 0-2 with a slider and curve, but he let him back in the count. At 3-2, Bryant banged it to right for a single.

Hudson seemed to be laboring, as he entered the at-bat against Rizzo at 92 pitches. Of course, he went to a full count again, and the Cubs sent Bryant on the pitch, which kept them out of another double play, as Rizzo hit a grounder to short, and Pauly, who initially moved to cover second, backtracked, backhanded the ball, and went to first for the second out.

Now with a runner at second and 2 outs, Baez grounded one up the middle, but Wong had been positioned near the base, allowing him to snag it and toss to first to end the inning.

Top of 6th (In Play, Run(s)) - Lefty Josh Osich replaced Winkler on the mound for the Cubs. The Cards kept the pressure on, and the Cubs flinched.

Lane Thomas led off with a single on a liner to left. Bader followed by sizzling a liner off a diving third baseman Bode’s glove, that then rolled into foul territory down the line for his second double as Thomas motored to third.

With the infield in, Wong rolled a grounder to Baez, who had to move to his right to glove. He threw off-balance, and the ball sailed over Rizzo, banging off the side wall, as Thomas scored and Bader flew to third to make it 6-3! Kolten stayed at first. It was scored a hit with Baez given an error on the throw.

Unfortunately, neither Edman nor Goldy could make contact, both striking out swinging for outs 1 and 2.

Ross then brought in righty Rowan Wick, and Pauly D came through immediately, picking up the duck at third by singling on a first-pitch knuckle curve, scoring Bader and moving Wong to second to make it 7-3 Cards!

Wick then got O’Neill to end the inning on a ground-out to short.

Bottom of 6th - Alex Reyes entered to protect the 4-run lead in the Windy City Ballpark. He did well.

Alex started well, striking out the first two batters, Kyle Schwarber on four pitches, the last one a curve over and just below the zone; and Contreras on 7 pitches, the last a slider way out of the zone. Alex went full against Maybin as well, who hit a hard grounder, but right at Edman at third, who converted the play for a clean inning.

Top of 7th - Onetime shut-down closer Craig Kimbrel entered.

Ravelo grounded out to Baez on the first pitch he saw for a quick first out. Yadi was called out on strikes on a curve that nicked the outer edge of the zone for the second out. Lane Thomas went to 3-2, but went down swinging on a 97 mph 4-seamer a little down and away.

Bottom of 7th - Reyes stayed in and got two quick outs; he then was pulled for Genesis Cabrera.

Alex froze Bote on a 1-2 hook to notch his third strikeout for out 1. It was up and in, odd for the curve, and Bote didn’t like it, but it was a strike. Kipnis made contact, but he popped up a 2-1 96 mph fastball to Tommy at third for out 2. Despite Alex looking sharp, Shildt brought in lefty Genesis Cabrera to face the switch-hitting Happ, who must not be a good swinging as a righty. Genesis waved him away like a bug, striking him out on 3 pitches: a change-up then two four-seamers at 96 and 97, respectively.

Top of 8th - Righty Duane Underwood, Jr, entered to become the 5th Cubs reliever tonight.

Harrison Bader started things off with his third hit of the night, knocking a single on a line drive to center. Kolten was patient, watching the first three bad pitches go by. On a 3-1 count, he hit one on the screws, lining a high-away fastball to left, but it fell into Schwarber’s mitt for a fly-out.

With Edman up, Bader took off on a 3-1 count. Tommy grounded out to second, but kept out of the double play, as Tots advanced and Tommy was retired at first. Now Goldy had a 2-out RISP shot, but he K’d swinging on 3 pitches.

Bottom of 8th - Cabrera remained in to face the heart of the Cubs’ order.

Kris Bryant banged a lead-off double to left off the first pitch from Genesis, a change-up that hung up in the upper-third of the zone. He came back to get a big strikeout of Rizzo, getting him on an 0-2 curve that Anthony whined he tipped. The ump disagreed.

Then on a 2-2 count vs. Baez, Cabrera broke off a hook that Baez let go, and the ump rung up for strike 3. It was outside, Javier barked, and he had a legit beef.

Mixing fastballs and hooks against Schwarber, youngster Genesis got Kyle to foul-tip a 2-2 curve into Yadi’s mitt to get out of the inning unscathed.

Top of 9th - Yet another Cub reliever entered, this one, a lefty, Matt Dermody.

Pauly D started off the final frame by striking out on pitch 6, a hittable 4 mph fastball in the lower third of the zone. Tyler and Rangel followed by both grounding out to Baez to end the inning.

Bottom of 9th - Giovanni Gallegos came in to close this thing down.

Gio got away with a full-count slider that hung right down the middle, as Contreras sent a deep fly to left center that hung up just enough for O’Neill to chase it down and glove it a step in front of the track for out 1.

Goldy then flashed his golden leather by chasing down a foul pop-up beyond first, making an over-the-shoulder catch cradling it just in the tip of his mitt for out 2.

Victor Caratini then pinch-hit for Bote, and on a full count, Gio snuck a 93 mph fastball by Victor, who watched it nestle in Yadi’s mitt within the zone for a called strike three to end the game!

Cards won, 7-3!

The Bottom Line

  • Dakota got dinged by the homer: 5.0 IP; 3 R, 5 H (2 HRs), 2 BB, 4 SOs.
  • Tommy’s homer in the first was his first HR since July 28 vs. the Twins.
  • Ian Happ came in with the best OPS in baseball (1.093).
    (Yes, better than Mike Trout (2nd with 1.071)).
  • Rangel Ravelo’s RBI double in the 3rd was his first hit of 2020.
  • Yadi was the only starter not to get a hit (though he did have a walk), going 0-3.
  • Cards were fortunate to bunch their hits (and have 2 of them be homers), as they were just 3-12 with RISP.
    The Cubs were 1-7 with RISP.
  • Cubs didn’t get a runner to third after the Kipnis homer in the 2nd.
  • Chalk up another great bullpen performance to blank the Cubs in the final 4 innings.
  • Your WPA Leaders: Goldy: .191 (just 1 for 5 but dat big 3-run tater)
    Bader: .169 (3-3; 2 doubles; a single; a HBP)
  • Maybe Bader will get more starts now.
  • Cubs early hopes were dashed.
An early 3-run dinger is always good to build from.