Photo is credited to Getty Images.
Over the weekend, the Cardinals and Cubs played a four-game series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Since the teams split the series, the Cubs’ twelve-game lead in the National League Central division that they entered the series with still stands.
Game One (F/11): Cubs 4, Cardinals 3 — WP: Mike Montgomery (4-5) LP: Zach Duke (2-1)
On a controversial ball-four call with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eleventh inning, the Cubs took their wild series opener with the Cardinals, 4-3.
Zack Duke’s 3-1 delivery to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo appeared as if it were in the strike zone and could have been called strike two. It was not called strike two, however, and Rizzo drew a walk to force in the game-winning run, collecting an RBI and extending Chicago’s winning streak to ten games.
After the Cubs scored three runs in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead, Randal Grichuk, in his first at-bat since being recalled from the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, hit a pinch-hit home run off Travis Wood to knot the score at three. The 3-3 tie stood until the Cubs won the ballgame in the eleventh, but the Cardinals squandered opportunities of their own to get back in the run column, including a bases-loaded scenario in the eleventh.
-Although they lost and drifted further back of the Cubs in the National League Central division, the biggest blow the Cardinals received on Thursday was the loss of slugger Matt Holliday. Holliday was hit on his right hand by a Mike Montgomery delivery in the tenth inning and was removed from the game. X-rays showed a fractured right thumb; the injury will keep Holliday down for much of the remaining season.
Before Friday’s game, the Cardinals transferred pitcher Tyler Lyons to the 60-day disabled list, squashing any chance of Lyons returning before the end of the regular season. The move allowed the Cardinals to add prospect Luke Weaver to the taxi squad, meaning the 22-year-old Weaver could work out with the team and meet his new teammates but was not permitted to be in the dugout during the game.
Game Two: Cubs 13, Cardinals 2 — WP: Jake Arrieta (14-5) LP: Adam Wainwright (9-7)
The Cubs tagged Cardinals’ starter Adam Wainwright for seven runs on Friday afternoon en route to a 13-2 rout over the St. Louis squad, extending Chicago’s winning streak to eleven games.
The Cubs hammered five home runs, including two off the bat of Matt Szczur, who was making his first start in five days. Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and Wilson Contreras went yard as well. Contreras’ homer was the only long ball the Cubs hit off of Wainwright; the other four were hit off of Jerome Williams in the final three innings of the game.
Jake Arrieta started the game for the Cubs and was pulled with a pitch count of 105 with two outs in the sixth inning. One of the few mistakes Arrieta made was against Stephen Piscotty, who teed off on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth for his sixteenth home run of the year to put the Cardinals on the board. The Cardinals other run came off the bat of Jedd Gyorko, who, too, hit his sixteenth homer of the season.
Prior to the third game of the series on Saturday, the Cardinals placed Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right thumb. The move allowed the Cardinals to officially add Luke Weaver to the 25-man roster. Weaver made the start on Saturday.
Game Three: Cardinals 8, Cubs 4 — WP: Alex Reyes (1-0) LP: Carl Edwards Jr. (0-1)
With three timely home runs and a not-so-timely wild pitch on behalf of the Cubs, the Cardinals doubled up the Cubs on Saturday, 8-4, snapping Chicago’s eleven-game winning streak.
On the pitch front, the Cardinals received a combined seven innings from prospects Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes. Weaver started the game for St. Louis and allowed two runs, both coming on Addison Russell’s fourteenth home run of the season. Reyes took care of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, allowing only two baserunners in his outing that resulted in his first major-league win.
The teams carried a 2-2 tie into the eighth inning, as Kyle Hendricks pitched the Cubs to that point. Hendricks turned in his third consecutive outing of at least seven innings, and he whiffed twelve batters, three more than he had struck out in his sixteen previous innings.
With Carl Edwards Jr. on the mound in the second-to-last frame of regulation, the Cardinals were able to score six times, four coming on a Randal Grichuk grand slam that came off of Joe Smith, who entered after Edwards walked his fourth batter of the inning.
Game Four: Cardinals 6, Cubs 4 — WP: Matt Bowman (2-4) LP: Hector Rondon (2-3) SV: Seung Hwan Oh (11)
Having not made an appearance in nearly two weeks, Cubs reliever Hector Rondon entered Sunday evening’s matchup in the eighth inning and served up his fourth home run of the season. Sunday’s home run happened to be a three-run shot off the bat of Stephen Piscotty, who put the Cardinals ahead for good, as St. Louis took the fourth and final game of the series, 6-4.
Piscotty’s three-run homer highlighted what was a five-run eighth inning for the Cardinals and helped the team split the four-game set at Wrigley field, giving the Cardinals a 7-6 head-to-head record against the Cubs this season. In the eighth, the Cardinals also received a solo shot off the bat of Brandon Moss, who now leads the team with 21 long balls.
The pace of play was pretty quick for much of the evening, as John Lackey and Mike Leake started the game for the Cubs and Cardinals, respectively, and each turned in fairly efficient outings, both of them quality starts. Lackey, though his pitch count was over 100, likely would have finished the seventh inning, but he was pulled from the game with two outs in the seventh after grimacing and stretching his throwing arm on the mound; Lackey is currently considered day-to-day.
Matt Bowman was able to wiggle out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning by inducing two flyouts and a strikeout, sending momentum the Cardinals direction.
Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist was forced to exit Sunday’s game with one out in the eighth inning as a result of a sore left arm. St. Louis called upon closer Seung Hwan Oh to record a five-out save, and he did so with ease, striking out four of the six batters he faced with ease.
Cardinals: Following a travel day on Monday, the Cardinals will begin a brief two-game series with the Astros in Houston on Tuesday.
Cubs: The Cubs will be off on Monday before opening a stretch of ten games in nine days with a four-games with the Brewers. The Cubs and Brewers will play a doubleheader on Tuesday.