Wood struggles as Cubs drop series opener
A Mark Reynolds grand slam in the top of the first and a four-run seventh showcased the potency of the St. Louis Cardinals’ offense on Monday night as Mike Matheny‘s club overcame an early five-run deficit, topping the Chicago Cubs by a 10-9 final in the series opener.
It was the aforementioned four-run seventh inning that proved to be the deciding blow in a game of back-and-forth battles between the division rivals. Right-hander Pedro Strop struggled, allowing back-to-back singles, followed by a walk to open the inning before being pulled in favor of left-hander Zac Rosccup.
The first batter he faced, Jason Heyward, grounded a ball to the left of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who made a nice play, retiring a man at second on the play as St. Louis (19-6) cut into the Chicago lead, making it 8-7 Cubs. Things spiraled downward from there for Chicago, as a Kolten Wong single and Tony Cruz double broke it open to 10-8 in favor of the home team, leaving Cubs’ fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Chicago (13-11) got things rolling in the first, hanging a five-spot against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, who was shelled for seven earned on nine hits and four walks in just 3 2/3 innings of work.
Run-scoring singles from Miguel Montero, Starlin Castro, Chris Denorfia and Travis Wood accounted for the five runs as Chicago batted around in the frame. However, a grand slam off the bat of Mark Reynolds in the bottom of the inning quickly changed the feel of the contest, making it a 5-4 game rather than a 5-0 Cubs’ lead.
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Slugger Anthony Rizzo launched his fourth home run of the year in the top of the second, extending the Cubs’ lead to 6-4 – where the score remained until the top of the fourth, when Montero doubled to score Bryant.
In the top of the ninth, Chicago yet again made things interesting when Addison Russell took Seth Maness deep for a solo shot – his second on the season – making it a one-run ballgame. However, the St. Louis right-hander settled down to retired Dexter Fowler for the final out of the contest.
After starting out cold, Montero is now batting .298 on the year for the Cubs, with three homers and 13 RBI. Bryant walked four times in the loss and Chris Denorfia, who left the game after re-aggravating his hamstring injury, also recorded a pair of base hits.
What Stood Out:
The manner in which opposing pitchers are approaching Kris Bryant is almost unheard of for a big league rookie. After drawing four walks on Monday night, the young slugger has compiled 16 walks in his first 16 games – with an OBP north of .450.
While he doesn’t have a home run yet, there’s no denying that Bryant has made his impact felt in the Cubs lineup on a daily basis, as he’s still batting .291 with 11 runs batted in and an .840 OPS.
Chicago will look to halt the Cardinals’ seven-game winning streak on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium behind right-hander Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 5.23). He will be opposed by Brandon Lyons (0-0, 0.00). First pitch is slated for 7:15 p.m. CT.