The St. Louis Cardinals, losers of five straight games at home last week, marched right into Wrigley Field, one of the toughest places to play in Major League Baseball, and took it to the limit against their longtime rivals… the Chicago Cubs.
It wasn’t easy, but the Cardinals were able to sweep the first-place Cubs on the road for the first time since 1988.
On the mound for St. Louis on Wednesday was Michael Wacha, while former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta got the start for the Cubs.
The Cubs had three hits and committed multiple mental and defensive errors, that led to them matching their longest losing skid of the season. Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter knows that this sweep came at a crucial time for the Cardinals.
“This is a big series for us,” Carpenter said. He added: “We grinded 1 through 9, even Wacha had a pretty long at-bat (seven pitches) against him. We worked his pitch count and had runners on base. The error, that ended up being the difference in the game.”
The error that Carpenter referred to came in the top of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Stephen Picotty hit a grounder to third. But second baseman Ben Zobrist threw a one-hopper to first base, and Athony Rizzo couldn’t dig it out for the double play; two runs scored.
“That was a big moment there,” Rizzo said. “I just missed it.”
“Give them credit. They pitched well, they really played well and they beat us fair and square,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the game.
Wacha, entering the game with a record of 2-7, had set down the first nine batters before giving up two walks in the fourth and then leading to Rizzo’s opposite-field single against the shift with two out. However, the Cubs were unable to score during the inning.
Arrieta, who entered the game with an 11-1 record, and a 1.74 ERA, was charged with two runs (one earned), and four hits in five innings as he walked four and threw a total of 106 pitches.
“Go back to work tomorrow and combat the things that teams have done against me recently,” Arrieta said.
Wacha notched his first win in nearly two months.
“It’s been a while for sure,” he said.
In a two week span, the Cardinals have swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs both on the road. There’s a lot of season left to go, and a lot of fight left in the team. Of course, there’s work to be done, but sweeping one of the best teams in baseball is a great place to start.