On Sunday, the Cardinals claimed a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants, capturing a series win over one of the best teams in all of baseball. The win didn’t come easily for the Redbirds, as all-star closer Alex Reyes worked around two walks and a deep fly ball hit into right. Reyes was able to shut the door, sealing his 22nd save of the year, and the 24th consecutive save to begin his MLB career. Reyes is now the proud owner of a new MLB record, breaking former Minnesota righthander LaTroy Hawkin’s 23 saves.
St. Louis would look to continue the magic starting on Monday, as the club would begin a four game series with the Chicago Cubs. For Chicago, they’ve already sent a message to the fanbase that they are beginning the early phases of rebuilding.
OF Joc Pederson, who was acquired by the Cubs in free agency this past offseason, was traded to the Atlanta Braves for 1B prospect Bryce Ball. The trade makes sense from the Braves perspective. After the season-ending injury to OF Ronald Acuna Jr., and the terrible situation with OF Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta was looking to add some help to both their outfield and lineup.
Chicago has a few more questions to answer before the season is all said and done. What will they do with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, etc.? Time will tell, but for now, their focus is on sneaking out a few wins against their bitter rivals.
Coming into Monday night, the Cardinals and Cubs had identical records and were towards the bottom in the NL Central. This four game series is huge for both squads. If the Cardinals are able to take three of four from Chicago, they’ll head over to Cincinnati with a chance to grow a sizeable lead over the Cubs and have a chance to catch the Reds for second place in the division.
The Cardinals would ask Jake Woodford to eat up some innings in game one. Woodford was called up from Triple-A Memphis and was slotted to make his first career start at Busch Stadium. OF Lars Nootbaar was optioned to make room for Woodford on the roster. Jake has seen some time this year for the Redbirds, pitching primarily out of the bullpen.
For the Cubs, Alec Mills would be making the start. It was just a year ago that Mills threw a no-hitter for Chicago, so the Cardinals knew this guy had some good stuff. Mills took the loss in his last outing vs. Cincinnati, pitching 5.2 innings with 9 Ks.
Wilson Contreras got things started for the Cubs with a lead off double to start the ballgame. Woodford was then able to get Rizzo to groundout, and Baez and Bryant to strikeout, stranding Contreras at third. Woodford would then go to punch out Heyward and Wisdom, making it four straight strikeouts to start his evening off.
Both lineups couldn’t come through until the home half of the 3rd when Dylan Carlson lined a ball that went 107.7 mph off the bat into centerfield that scored Harrison Bader, giving St. Louis the early 1-0 advantage. In the next at-bat, Paul Goldschmidt would ground into a double play, ending a potential rally for the Cards.
Things would start to spiral out of control for the Cubs in the bottom of the fourth. Tyler O’Neill reached on a throwing error by 3B Patrick Wisdom. Yadier Molina in the next at-bat would hit a single to center, and Tommy Edman would draw a walk, sending the red hot Paul DeJong to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
DeJong proceeded to hit a ball softly to Baez which was booted, driving in O’Neill from third. Baez would screw up the next play, committing a throwing error to push across the second run of the inning. Carlson would drive in another with a bases loaded walk, and Goldschmidt extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a ball hit 31.2 mph off that bat.
All in all, four runs came in for St. Louis, all of which were manufactured with zero balls hit out of the infield. If the Cubs are exploring the possibility of a Baez trade, they may want to amp those conversations up while he still has a bit of value. Ian Happ in the top of the fifth grounded into a double play, but put the first run on the board for the Cubs, making the score now 5-1 Cardinals.
Woodford would come out of this game in the top of the sixth after going 5.2 innings with only one earned run, no walks, and six Ks. Out of the 80 pitches he threw, 51 of those were strikes. A fantastic performance from an unlikely source. TJ McFarland would enter to record the final out, and he would only need one pitch to do so as he got pinch hitter Jake Marisnick to ground out.
The Redbirds put up three more runs in the bottom half of the sixth, courtesy of back-to-back jacks from Carlson and Goldschmidt, making it now 8-1 St. Louis. Wisdom, who played in 32 games for the Cardinals in 2018, got a little revenge by hitting a solo homer in the top of the seventh. Kris Bryant grounded out to third which allowed his buddy Rizzo to come in and score in the eighth. Two more runs were put up by Chicago as they cut into the lead a bit now down 8-3.
John Gant came in back in the seventh after Andrew Miller pitched 0.2 innings. Manager Mike Shildt’s preference was not to go to Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, or Alex Reyes in the late innings of this game since all three relievers have appeared in a lot of games recently. If Gant was able to limit the damage and save those guys for down the road in this series, that would be huge.
Gant, who’s been moved to the bullpen after struggling in the rotation, didn’t struggle tonight, as he only gave up one run, but close the night out for St. Louis. The Cardinals won by the final of 8-3. After a strong outing from Jake Woodford, an offensive outburst, and some shaky defense by Chicago, the Cards were able to take game one on Monday.
Certainly the narrative of the night was the poor defense by the Cubs. Chicago committed a season high four errors in this game, two from their star SS Javy Baez. The Cubs have been reeling as of late, and their struggles continued much to the Cardinals fortune.
The boys had a good game and started the week of right. The bright spots of the evening had to be from the young Cardinal outfielders. Dylan Carlson drove in four in this ballgame, two via the home run. Bader had a couple hits as well and mixed in there was a 10 pitch at-bat which resulted in a base hit. Both Carlson and Bader, in addition to many others, are going to be big parts of this team if they’re able to make a run.
With the win, St. Louis now moves back to the .500 mark at 47-47. Tonight was a statement win for the Redbirds, who were able to take advantage of many run scoring opportunities.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow night for game two. First pitch is approximately @ 7:15 PM CDT. Trevor Williams will be the starter for the Cubs. St. Louis has yet to announce a starter. Shildt is holding out to personally meet with a few candidates in mind (Johan Oviedo) before making the call. More information will come as soon as available.
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