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Cardinals @ Cubs Recap 4.5 - Cards take Opening Day in Chicago

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Wainwright becomes early favorite for Cy Young award; Heyward becomes early favorite for MVP award; Cardinals win on Opening Day!

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs

Adam Wainwright vs. Jon Lester
7:05 p.m. CT
Wrigley Field- Chicago, Illinois

Today's Lineups -

Some News -

  • Earlier today, the Padres acquired Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton, Jr. from the Braves.  The Braves receive Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quinton, Matt Wisler, Jordan Paroubeck, and the 41st overall pick in this summer's draft. - MLBTR

Things we were looking for -

This opening series doesn't lack in intrigue.  The new-look-but-not-quite-complete Cubbies host their age-old arch rivals (see what I did there?) in their new-look-but-not-quite-complete stadium.  Joe Maddon will begin his tenure pushing the buttons after a successful run with the Rays.  The Cubs' shiny new free agent prize, Jon Lester, takes the mound to lead his team to what they hope will be a run of sustained success.  The opening day roster for the Cubs has some notable exclusions, including all-or-nothing second baseman Javier Baez and uberprospect Kris Bryant, both of whom will start the season with the Cubs' AAA affiliate.  Also absent from the opening night starting roster is Miguel Montero, veteran catcher acquired from the Diamondbacks during the offseason (presumably because of Lester's familiarity with former Red Sox teammate David Ross).  On the other side of the ledger, the Cardinals only major change to their regular lineup from last year will feature their new right fielder, Jason Heyward.

Ben's series preview

Bleed Cubbie Blue's series preview

Joe's in-depth look at Jon Lester

Things that happened -

Top halves -

The 2015 season started with Lester inducing a harmless groundout from leadoff man Matt Carpenter.  New Cardinal Jason Heyward greeted Lester to the National League with a line drive double to Jorge Soler out in right field.  Matt Holliday quickly drove him in, singling to right.  Soler had some trouble handling the ball, allowing Heyward an easy trip from second around to home to take an early lead.  Lester stopped the momentum by striking out Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams.  Cardinals lead 1-0.

Yadier Molina led off the second.  Lester had his timing screwed up as he threw a cutter, a changeup, and a fastball right past the swinging bat of our skinny catcher.  Kolten Wong worked a walk, and made it to third on a single in the right-center gap by Jon Jay.  Carpenter showed some aggressiveness, uncharacteristically blasting a first-pitch cutter into right-center.  Wong scored, and Jay came around to third.  Carpenter kept up the aggressiveness on the base paths, this time to the detriment of the birds on the bat.  David Ross caught him trying to steal second, and the inning ended.  Cardinals lead 2-0.

Heyward led off the third with a bloop double to left that fell in between Starlin Castro and a diving Coghlan.  When Holliday grounded to Lester, Lester could have easily gotten Heyward out between second and third, but instead elected to get the out at first.  It was a strange choice, allowing Heyward to take third base.  Fortunately for Lester, he was able to keep Heyward there, striking out Peralta (partially thanks to a consistently wide strikezone), and inducing a Adams grounder into the Adams shift.

In the fourth, Wong (who reached on a fielder's choice) stole second and took third on a throwing error by Ross.  Unfortunately, he ended the inning on third.

The fifth was exciting.  After Carp singled to lead off, he and Heyward pulled off a nice hit and run to put runners on the corners.  Holliday flared a little blooper into short right field, scoring Carp.  Heyward and Holliday pulled off a double steal.  Lester's night was through after he got Peralta to pop up to shallow center (that the Cubs almost screwed up).  Phil Coke checked in and got a couple quick outs to end the inning.  Cardinals lead 3-0.  Lester's final line: 4 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 89 pitches thrown.

Old friend Jason Motte took over the pitching duties in the sixth.  He notched a quick 1-2-3 inning.

Neil Ramirez allowed an infield hit to Peralta, but was otherwise unscathed in the seventh.

The eighth featured Pedro Strop.  Jay doubled, and Mark Reynolds made his Cardinal debut.  He worked a 3-0 count, and then struck out looking on a generous outside strike call.

Hector Rondon pitched the ninth.  With two outs, Holliday walked.  Peter Bourjos checked in as a pinch runner.  He stole second, and took third on a throwing error by Miguel Montero.

Bottom halves -

Dexter Fowler started off the Cubbies' season on a high note, lobbing a double into left.  Soler advanced him to third on a groundout to second.  Wainwright painted both sides of the plate on his way to a strikeout of Anthony Rizzo.  Adam was able to strand Fowler at third, inducing a Starlin Castro groundout.

Chris Coghlan led off the second with a double to the same spot in left that Fowler led off the first with.  David Ross moved him along to third with a sac fly.  Jon Lester took some hacks, but ultimately wasn't able to raise his .000 lifetime average.  His strikeout ended the inning.

Tommy LaStella singled to begin the third, collecting the third consecutive leadoff hit.  He stole second, but was left there.  Adam threw two beautiful curveballs to strike out Rizzo to end the inning.

Adam used just 9 pitches to get through his half of the fourth.

Ross collected yet another leadoff hit in the fifth, a double.

Matt Holliday made a sliding catch to prevent a leadoff double off the bat of Soler in the sixth.  After Castro singled, Coghlan gave the Cards a scare, sending a fly ball to deep right field.  Luckily, it fell right into Heyward's glove to end the inning.  Thank goodness for early April in Chicago.  That was it for Wainwright.  His final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 101 pitches thrown.

Newly minted fifth starter Carlos Martinez came in to do some relief work in the seventh.  He gave up a walk, and left some stuff up in the zone, but got through the inning.  Perhaps this appearance will calm the nerves when he starts the April 11th game against the Reds.

Jordan Walden jumped his way into his Cardinals career in the eighth.  He gave up a walk, but struck out two.

Trevor Rosenthal looked sharp in striking out the side to collect his first save.  He got a couple swing-and-misses on the high heat, but he mixed in some changeups effectively, and even threw in a curveball. Cardinals win 3-0.

Final Notes -

  • I wouldn't say either starter was especially sharp early on.  Lester never really settled in, but luckily Adam did.  They were both aided by a strike zone that was wide.  Take a look:

  • Four of Waino's five hits allowed led off an inning.
  • There were some sabermattrics going on today.  Those crazy Matts.  I'm sure someone will keep the count.
  • Yadi's timing looked way off at the plate.
  • 4 Stolen Bases!  That's fun.
  • Jason Heyward, Mark Reynolds, and Jordan Walden all made their Cardinals debuts
  • "God Bless America" at the beginning of the game and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch were awful.
  • Gamenotes: Cards | Cubs
  • Fangraphs page for the game.  Top three contributors to the Cardinals' win were unsurprisingly Wainwright, Heyward, and Holliday.

Looking ahead -

Tune in Tuesday as Jake Arrieta takes on Lance Lynn.  The action comes your way at 7:05.