After the Cubs had a laugher on Wednesday night, the rivals from St. Louis returned the favor Thursday afternoon with a blow out win of their own. As a result, the Cardinals took the series win and a five game lead over the Cubs on their way out of town.
For the Cubs, the hope after Wednesday’s break out game was that things would start to go the Cubs way. But it was a tough task to begin with as they had to face Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia, who came into the game undefeated and is quickly establishing himself as one of the up and coming young starters in MLB.
The Cardinals started scattered nine hits over seven innings of work, and the Cubs offense was only able to scratch him for one run. Starlin Castro was inserted into the lead off spot to face the left hander and went 1 for 4. Jeff Baker got the start in right field and was the lone bright spot on offense, going 3 for 4 and driving in the lone Cubs run, his 10th RBI of the season. Cubbies Crib reader favorite Welington Castillo, who had a bit of a break out Spring Training, was handed his first start of the 2011 season. Unfortunately the Cubs catching prospect went o for 4 at the plate, including two strike outs with runners in scoring position.
The life of a spot starter is tough, as Casey Coleman has been finding out, and it is even harder when you are a control pitcher instead of a power pitcher. Despite issuing four walks on the day, it was the pitches he threw in the top of the 2nd inning that got hammered and did him in for the game, allowing five runs in the frame. The offensive ambush by the Cardinals included a single by the opposing pitcher Garcia, but the inning ended with Coleman getting the mighty Albert Pujols to fly out with a runner on third. Go figure.
Coleman was pulled after going just 4 1/3 innings, and the Cubs cast of relievers tried to patch things together to get through the game. It was good to see James Russell make a solid relieve appearance after being beat up as a spot starter. The bullpen is where Russell belongs and that is not being said in a negative way. Solid left handed relievers are a luxury for MLB teams and Russell has the stuff to be just that for a nice long MLB career. Justin Berg was tagged for a couple runs in what may be his last appearance at Wrigley during this cup of coffee as he is the most likely candidate to be sent down when the Cubs call up Doug Davis to make a spot start on Saturday.