Cubs vs Cardinals Series Recap


A Cubs versus Cardinals series is usually a big deal for both fan bases, and the crowd atmosphere reaches its peak when the series is played on a weekend. Unfortunately, a terrible 2011 season has not given the Cubs fan base much to brag about. It would have been interesting to find out if Cubs fans would have been more happier with a series win in St Louis, or seeing a flurry of trade deadline moves involving some of the team’s expendable veterans.

But in true Cubs fashion, the organization was able to provide neither and left the fans with a very unsatisfying weekend. On the field, the team proceeded to drop the first two games of the series.

After producing quality starts all month long, but with nothing to show for it in his win column thanks to the failures of his teammates, Matt Garza had an atypical bad outing to close out his month of July. When all was said and done he had given up six runs on eight hits in just 5 2/3 innings of work. In the mean time, his offense did not do much to attempt to pick him up. The Cubs wasted a leadoff single by Starlin Castro to start the game. In the second inning, the Cubs had the bases loaded with no outs, but were only able to score one run thanks to a sac fly by Tyler Colvin that ended up turning into a double play when Geo Soto was thrown out at third base on the back end of the play.

It was a couple ghosts of the recent past that haunted the Cubs on Friday night. Former Cub Ryan Theriot went 2 for 2 with three RBI despite coming into the game as a substitute, making sure he reminded the Cubs of what they let go. The other was Edwin Jackson, who only gave up one run despite giving up seven hits. The Cubs can thank their cross town rival White Sox for this, as Jackson came to St Louis from Chicago via Toronto. To add insult to injury, Theriot’s big blow came off of the struggling Carlos Marmol, who was tagged for three runs in his inning of work.

There was more twisting of the knife in the hearts and pride of Cubs fans on Saturday afternoon. The offense capitalized on an error and some uncharacteristic wildness from Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse despite almost blowing a bases loaded opportunity for the second straight day. Soto and Alfonso Soriano saved the Cubs from that dubious achievement with a double and homer respectively, both hits coming with two outs.

Starter Rodrigo Lopez gave two runs right back to the Cardinals in the bottom of the first, but Cubs fans had to believe that their team was on their way to a win after finally putting a big crooked number on the scoreboard. But the aforementioned knife twist came in the fifth inning when the hated rivals dropped eight runs on the Cubs. Lopez was lifted after getting into a bases loaded jam and walking in the first run of the frame. His bullpen mate Jeff Samardzija did not fare much better, who gave up four runs (three earned) of his own on top of the inherited runners that scored.

In the mean time, Lohse and company were able to pin the Cubs offense to the ground the rest of the way, only allowing one hit the rest of the game. That hit came in the ninth inning with the game already out of hand.

At least the Cubs saved their fans the embarrassment of a sweep at the hands of their long time rivals. Ryan Dempster had a solid start, with the only mistake being a slider that Lance Berkman crushed for a homer to get the home team back in the game 4-3 at the time. The Cubs hitters had continued their code of silence offensively until the top of this frame, when Castro hit a ground rule double to drive in two and spark the four run sixth.

After the Cardinals responded, it would not have been a surprise to see the Cubs close shop and cave in. But Sean Marshall cleaned up the mess Dempster left to start the bottom of the seventh to hold the lead, and fan favorite Kerry Wood did the same for Marshall in the eighth inning, making a highlight reel worthy behind the back stab on a come backer to start the inning ending 1-6-3 double play. Soriano rode that momentum and hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth to extend the lead for the Cubs, his 17th of the season. With two homers in two days, here is hoping that Soriano heats up the rest of the way to make him slightly more marketable this off season.

But the Cubs were not out of the woods yet. Having already used Marshall and Wood to even get the Cubs into the ninth, manager Mike Quade was forced to use the struggling Marmol to get the save. With Friday night still fresh on some fans minds, there probably was not much confidence for Marmol to get the job done. But the former Cubs closer was able to start the inning by making Berkman look foolish on his way to a strike out, and Marmol worked around a one out single to close out the game for his first save since July 9th.

The win ended the Cubs five game losing streak and allowed the team to close out July with a W, but that does not provide much consolation considering the team’s 9-17 record for the month of July.