ST. LOUIS, MO – The Cubs looked to even up the series against the Cardinals Tuesday night, following a season opening loss on Sunday. The Cubs were determined to come out swinging early against ace Adam Wainwright and the pesky Cardinals.
Jake Arrieta intended to do everything he could to pick up his first win on the season and propel the Cubs in the win column as well. He was dealing early, with great command over his fastball and nasty slider. Arrieta had four strikeouts through the first two innings, a great sign if you’re a Cubs fan. Any whispers of a 2017 hangover were silenced as he mowed down Cardinals.
But Arrieta wasn’t the only pitcher dealing early, as Wainwright had similar success through the first few frames. After giving up a lead-off walk to Kyle Schwarber, Wainwright settled in an retired eight of the next nine batters; only giving up his first hit to Arrieta himself.
But the Cubs bats could only go silenced for so long. Addison Russell doubled to deep right center to start off the fourth inning. After giving up a walk to catcher Willson Contreras, Wainwright lost a battle against Jason Heyward that resulted in a bloop single, allowing Russell to score and Contreras to advance to third. Javier Baez immediately followed the single up with a sacrifice bunt that scored Contreras, consequently giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Any guesses on who ended Arrieta’s no-hit bid in the fourth? Well, if you guessed former cub Dexter Fowler, then go ahead and high five yourself.
The Cardinals got on the scoreboard following a throwing error by Baez at second. Kolten Wong reached on an infield single to second and Stephen Piscotty later scored on Baez’s throwing error. The Cubs lead was diminished to one run following the fifth inning, resulting in a 2-1 lead.
Arrieta, with Justin Grimm warming up in the bullpen, loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth. But Arrieta escaped the jam by inducing a fly-out on Cardinals right-fielder Randal Grichuk, ending the inning and his night on the mound. Arrieta’s stat line? 6.0 innings pitched, 1R/0E, 4 H, 6 K, 2 BB.
Koji Uehara came in relief for Arrieta in the seventh and made quick work of the Cardinals line-up, thanks in large part to center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his game preventing home run robbery of Matt Adams. I guess were not missing Dex that much in center, huh?
Wade Davis made his 2017 Cubs debut during the ninth inning and made quick work of the Cardinals’ batters, giving the Cubs their first W on the year.
Jake Arrieta: 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 2 BB
Addison Russell: 1-4, 1 R, 2B
Adam Wainwright: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 6 K, 2 BB
Jake Arrieta, as previously stated, was lights out tonight. Arrieta needs to have a strong 2017 campaign, considering he’s a free agent following this season. He did not disappoint.
Tonight’s ball game was a pitching duel with the only Cubs runs coming on a Jason Heyward single and a Javier Baez sacrifice bunt. The Cubs bullpen looked strong, coming off a tough outing on Sunday night. Pedro Strop fought through some rough counts, proving yet again that baseball is a war of attrition.
I wouldn’t necessarily call anything that took place “bad” but Baez did make his second error in as many games. This is definitely not anything to worry about, however, as Baez has gold-glove potential at second base.
The Cubs will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon in the third game in their opening series versus the Cardinals, and will send John Lackey (0-0) to the mound to oppose Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (0-0).
First Pitch: 12:45 pm (CT)
Radio: 670 The Score