After a rainout on Wednesday, the Cubs and Cardinals finally played the rubber game of their season-opening series on Thursday. John Lackey made his first start of the year against his former employer.
With runners on the corners in the 1st, Lackey appeared to have induced a double-play grounder from Yadier Molina, but second baseman Ben Zobrist dropped the transfer and everyone was safe. Matt Adams and Randal Grichuk followed with singles to give St. Louis a 3-0 lead.
Jason Heyward started a rally with a hard single off of starter Lance Lynn in the 5th. Lackey and Jon Jay followed with singles to cut the Cardinals lead to 3-1. Kris Bryant, who ran his hitless streak to 13 at-bats, lined out with the bases loaded later in the inning.
St. Louis went up 4-1 with a Molina sacrifice fly in bottom of the 5th and Addison Russell drove home Anthony Rizzo, who had doubled, with a ground-out in the 6th.
The Cubs entered the 7th inning down 4-2, looking to turn things around in a hurry. Matt Szczur struck out swinging, but the ball somehow stuck to Molina’s chest protector and allowed the batter to reach. After a Jon Jay walk, Kyle Schwarber mashed a three-run bomb off of Brett Cecil to give Chicago the lead.
A Russell RBI ground-out gave the Cubs a fourth run in the inning and a 6-4 lead. Hector Rondon kept it there with a 1-2-3 appearance in his first action of the season.
Pedro Strop ran into problems in the 8th inning when he walked Molina and then dropped a ball covering the bag on a Greg Garcia grounder. This time the error would not prove costly, as Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Grichuk and Jedd Gyorko to escape the jam.
Wade Davis allowed a leadoff double to Kolten Wong in the 9th inning, but got the next three to save the Cubs victory.
Stats That Matter
- Jason Heyward was 2-for-4 and reached base three times with a run scored. His first hit was particularly well struck.
- Kyle Schwarber (1-for-4) turned the game around with his long home run. A scenario like today is exactly what manager Joe Maddon had in mind when he put Kyle leadoff. Turn over the lineup to a power threat immediately.
- John Lackey recovered well from the big error in the 1st. He pitched 5 strong innings after the three-run 1st and kept the Cubs in the game. He also had two singles and went first-to-third on Jay’s hit.
The Cubs offense finally kicked into gear Thursday and was able to overcome some uncharacteristically shaky defense. The Cardinals are likely to be the Cubs closest divisional competition, so winning two of three at Busch is a big deal.
Chicago continues its road trip in Milwaukee on Friday night, when Brett Anderson has his first start as a Cub against Jimmy Nelson. The game is at 7:10 CT on CSN Chicago and 670 the Score.