The bad: St. Louis went 0-10 with runners in scoring position, stranded 11 runners, and the 3-5 men in the order went a combined 1-10.
The good: Lars Nootbaar hit two more doubles and continues to be extremely fun and also good.
Every streak has to end eventually, right? Three out of five games at Wrigley would be acceptable. Four out of five would be great. Five out of five never quite seemed reasonable. Here’s how the game two loss went down:
Missed opportunities haunted the Cardinals all afternoon, starting in the first inning. Lars Nootbaar led off the game with a double to left field, but St. Louis was unable to capitalize. With Brendan Donovan batting, Nootbaar moved to third base on a wild pitch from Cubs starter Javier Assad, who was making his MLB debut. Donovan then grounded out to third base, and Noot had to stay right where he was. Paul Goldschmidt hit a ground ball to first base and Nootbaar tried to score, but was hosed at home plate. Nolan Arenado grounded out to Nico Hoerner at shortstop for out number three.
Adam Wainwright worked a 1-2-3 inning on 11 pitches in the first. Zach McKinstry flew out to center field, Hoerner flew out to Donovan in left field, and Ian Happ grounded out to second base.
Nolan Gorman was first to hit in the second inning and he hit a lazy fly ball to left field for out number one. Albert Pujols — starting against a righty for the first time in awhile — was called out on strikes despite Assad’s fastball settling into his catcher’s glove about five inches off the plate. Paul DeJong drew a two-out walk. Yadier Molina got ahead 3-0 in the count before eventually popping out to first baseman P.J. Higgins in foul territory.
Seiya Suzuki led off for the Cubs in the second and hit a sinking line drive directly at Arenado, who completely whiffed it as it grazed off the end of his glove. Arenado was charged with an error — his ninth of the season (he made 11 errors last season and still won the Gold Glove). Franmil Reyes singled to left field, moving Suzuki to second. But neither runner would move from that spot, as Rafael Ortego flew out to shallow center field, Gomes flew out to left, and Higgins took strike three at the knees.
Carlson led off the third inning and grounded out to McKinstry at second base. Nootbaar worked an eight pitch at-bat but eventually struck out. Donovan singled, Goldschmidt walked, and Arenado walked to load the bases with two outs. Gorman swung at a cut fastball at the ankles and grounded out softly to second base, stranding the bases loaded.
Rookie outfielder Christopher Morel — who was actually at third base this afternoon — rapped a base hit to right field, as did McKinstry right behind him. Hoerner hit a slow bouncer over Wainwright’s head that Gorman was able to grab and get the out at first base, but Morel scored to make it 1-0 Cubs and McKinstry advanced to second base.
Happ walked, and then after fouling off several pitches in a row Suzuki hit a high chopper over the head of Wainwright into center field for a base hit, scoring McKinstry to make it 2-0 Chicago in the third. Wainwright struck out Reyes and Oretega back-to-back to end the inning, but he was up over 60 pitches through three frames.
Pujols led off the fourth and looped a ball perfectly down the left field line that landed near the wall for a leadoff double. Apparently a fan reached down and snagged it off the warning track dirt below his seat so Pujols was awarded second base, but it looked like Albert was going to stand up at second regardless. The Cardinals once again failed to capitalize with a man in scoring position, as DeJong struck out swinging, Molina popped out to second base, and Carlson grounded out.
Wainwright issued walks to Higgins and McKinstry in the fourth inning, but aside from that Chicago didn’t make any solid contact in the inning and Waino was able to walk the tightrope. He threw 17 pitches in a scoreless fourth.
Nootbaar absolutely obliterated a ball to right field leading off the fifth inning, and it went for a double off the ivy. It left the bat at 111 mph, and was hit so hard it actually hit the ivy wall and bounced back towards the infield and could have potentially been stretched into a triple. Donovan worked an eight-pitch walk behind him. David Ross went to the bullpen and pulled Assad in favor of right-handed reliever Michael Rucker.
Assad’s final line: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K’s (85 pitches)
Going with the theme of the afternoon, neither Nootbaar nor Donovan wound up moving any farther. Goldschmidt struck out swinging, Arenado popped out on the infield, and Gorman flew out to left field.
Happ, Suzuki, and Reyes all flew out in the fifth inning. It was a scoreless, nine pitch inning for Wainwright.
Pujols led off the sixth and grounded out to shortstop. DeJong followed and flew out to Happ in left field. Molina put a charge into it with two outs with a deep fly ball to left, but Happ ran it down and made the catch up against the ivy.
Ortega drew a leadoff walk from Wainwright in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gomes flew out to center field for out number one, and Higgins grounded out to Arenado at third base with Ortega advancing to second. With two outs, Morel had a swinging bunt towards Arenado that came off the bat at 80 mph. Arenado was played deep, and there was no play to be made. Ortega advanced to third base.
After a brief mound meeting between Wainwright, Molina, the entire infield, and Oli Marmol, Wainwright got McKinstry to fly out to center field to end the inning and keep the Cardinals within two runs still.
Wainwright’s final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K’s (106 pitches)
Left-hander Sean Newcomb took the mound in the top of the seventh. Carlson and Nootbaar both grounded out for outs number one and two. Donovan reached on a throwing error by Hoerner at shortstop, and Goldshmidt singled to right field, advancing Donovan to third. With runners on the corners and two outs — a prime position to make things interesting — Arenado popped out on the infield to kill the rally and inning.
Left-hander JoJo Romero — acquired in the Edmundo Sosa deal — took the mound for St. Louis in the seventh. He got Hoerner to ground out to short, Happ to fly out to Noot, and struck out Suzuki for a clean seventh inning.
Right-hander Erich Uelmen actually recorded the final out of the seventh inning — the Arenado at-bat — and returned in the eighth inning. He induced ground ball outs from Gorman and Pujols before hitting DeJong in the hand in a 1-2 count. Molina flew out to center field for the third out.
Another 1-2-3 inning for Romero in the eighth. Reyes grounded out, pinch-hitter Nelson Velazquez flew out to center, and Gomes grounded out.
Left-hander Brandon Hughes was called on in the ninth to protect the 2-0 Cubs lead. Carlson popped out to shallow center field, with second baseman Zach McKinstry ranging into the grass to make the catch. Tommy Edman pinch-hit for Nootbaar against the lefty and took strike three inside for out number two. Tyler O’Neill — who was out of the lineup for the first game of the doubleheader — pinch hit for Donovan with two outs in the ninth. He swing at the first pitch he saw and flew out to Suzuki in right field to end the game.
FINAL: Chicago 2, St. Louis 0
The Cardinals (70-52) take on the Cubs (53-69) in a few hours in the second game of today’s doubleheader at Wrigley field. Jake Woodford (2-0, 2.66 ERA) will make his first start of the season for St. Louis. Opposing him will be right-hander Adrian Sampson (1-3, 3.51 ERA), who is making his 11th start of the season.
First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. in Chicago.
Around the Central
Braves - Pirates — 6:05 p.m.
Reds - Phillies — 6:05 p.m.
MLB Pickle #167 - 4/9
A 4/9 after a completely white first line?
“Please clap.” - my best Jeb Bush impersonation