After successfully beating one of their National League Central division rivals in the Wild Card game on Wednesday night, the Chicago Cubs were on track to play in the NLDS against an even bigger rival of theirs. That’d be the Saint Louis Cardinals. St. Louis and Chicago started their first postseason series ever on Friday at Busch Stadium.
Jon Lester was called upon by Joe Maddon to oppose the Cardinals and John Lackey. Jon and John, members of the 2013 Boston Red Sox team that beat the Cardinals in six games to win the World Series, found themselves toeing the pitching rubber against one another.
Following a ground-rule double off the bat of Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday scorched an RBI-single into centerfield to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. That 1-0 lead would stand for the remainder of the ballgame, growing to 4-0 in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Tommy Pham’s long solo homer in the bottom half of the eighth inning was just the second run Lester had surrendered, but, after he walked Matt Carpenter, he was removed from the game in favor of right-handed reliever Pedro Strop. Up came Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals’ young and promising rookie who appeared to be knocked unconscious during a vicious collision about two weeks ago. Piscotty blasted a ball, a two-run shot, to give his team the 4-0 score in which they’d win by. It appears as if everything has healed just fine.
Jon Lester’s outing was certainly one that was not used to its advantage. Lester respectfully breezed through 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and striking out nine Cardinals. Unfortunately for the powerful lefty, his counterpart topped his performance. Oh, and his counterpart also was given some run support to work with.
John Lackey’s start was equal in length to Lester’s, as he was lifted out of the game following an out in the top of the eighth inning. John strung a no-hit bid out to the sixth inning, the inning in which Addison Russell singled to start it off. Kyle Schwarber singled in the seventh, the second and final hit that the Cubs recorded off of Lackey.
Kevin Siegrist recorded the second and third outs of the top of the eighth inning, striking out Chris Coghlan and Addison Russell. Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth inning for Mike Matheny’s club, and he, too, recorded all of his outs via the strikeout. The Cubs made it interesting, though.
After Chris Denorfia was called out on strikes to begin the ninth, Jorge Soler drew a walk. Dexter Fowler, who just missed hitting a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning, was also called out on strikes. Two outs, now. Enter Kyle Schwarber. Kyle lined a single to the outfield, pushing Soler to third. That’s as far as Soler would get, nonetheless. Kris Bryant was called out on a 98 MPH fastball to conclude game one. St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the series with their 4-0 win.
This series will continue on Saturday. It, as did the first game, will feature an intriguing pitching matchup. Kyle Hendricks and his Cubs will look to even up the series against Jaime Garcia and the Cardinals, who are looking to increase their lead in the best-of-five series to 2-0.
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