The Cubs left their mark on the Cardinals this week, taking 2 of 3 games. Despite their winningness, the Cubs find themselves still 7 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the lead in the National League Central Division.
Game one of the series was started by Lance Lynn and Dan Haren. Chicago scored early and often. Dexter Fowler kicked things off in the top of the first when he swatted a ball 394 feet out to the right-field seats. His seventeenth homer, a lead-off one, was just a glimpse of what was to come of him and the Cubs’ offense. Top of the second now. Fowler is up again. There are two runners on base and, wouldn’t you know it, Fowler scorched a double to plate both of them. The Cubs tacked on five more in the third, three of them via Addison Russell’s three-run bomb, and knocked Lance Lynn out of the ballgame. And, then, for good measure, Dan Haren hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth to plate another. Dan Haren bewildered the Cardinal bats for seven innings, allowing no runs. The bullpen did much the same. By a 9-0 score, the Cubs won the game.
The middle game of the series was started by Jason Hammel and Michael Wacha. Anthony Rizzo jacked a two-out, two-run bomb in the first and rushed out to an early 2-0 lead. The Cubs added four more tallies in the second, three of them on Starlin Castro’s three-run shot. That’d be all the Cubs would score–for now. Off of former Cub Carlos Villanueva, Chicago added a pair of runs in the seventh to further pad their lead. The Cardinals wouldn’t go quiet, though, as they “erupted” for five in the seventh. Randal Grichuk, the outfielder freshly activated off of the disabled list, in his first at-bat since the middle of August, hit a pinch-hit homer. It was a two-run homer, to be exact, and it showed the first sign of offensive life for the Cards. Stephen Piscotty hit a two-RBI single, and Tony Cruz had an RBI-single, too. The 8-5 Cubs’ advantage looked to be in jeopardy, but it wasn’t. Fernando Rodney and Hector Rondon took care of business in the eight and ninth innings en route to an 8-5 win of the ballgame and the series.
On Wednesday, just before the start of the series’s final game, the Cardinals activated Matt Adams off of the 60-day disabled list and designated pitcher Nick Greenwood for assignment. Adams had to have his right quadriceps surgically repaired after injuring it in late May. He has yet to be cleared to run, so him starting a game is a bit of a stretch, but he does have the ability to pinch-hit.
The finale of the series was started by Carlos Martinez and Jon Lester. A single and two doubles were key for the Cubs in the first inning, as they put up two runs. The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the first. Following a triple off the bat of Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward singled him in. The score would remain 2-1 until the Cardinal half of the eighth inning. Mark Reynolds drew a walk and Greg Garcia singled, setting up the stage for Matt Carpenter. Pete Kozma, who entered the game to run for Reynolds, scored on Matt’s base hit. Then, Fernando Rodney, 38, entered the game to face rookie Stephen Piscotty. The 24-year-old bested out the elder, doubling off of the wall and plating two. The Cardinals took a 4-2 lead and would go on to win by that score. Trevor Rosenthal secured save number forty-three.
Though it’ll go down as a no-decision in box scores everywhere, Jon Lester had a start on Wednesday worth much more than just a mention or two. The lefty pitched seven innings and allowed a total of three Cardinal base runners, two of them coming in the first inning. The other was a walk in which he issued to Yadier Molina.
The Cubs will head to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to play four games with the Phillies. Jake Arrieta is starting in the first game of that series. The Cardinals will make the trip to Cincinnati, Ohio to face the Reds. The series is four games and starts on Thursday (9/10). Jaime Garcia will start for St. Louis, and Cincy will counter with John Lamb.
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