Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: John Lackey, Jason Heyward return to St. Louis in series opener

Apr 13, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey (41) delivers in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey (41) delivers in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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For the first time this season, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will battle it out. They opened up the 2015 campaign with a three-game series at Wrigley Field and went head-to-head in the postseason. Will this be redemption for the Cards or another statement made by the Cubs?

We’re a little over two weeks into the new season and the Cubs are sitting at the top of the National League Central with a record of 9-3. They started things out by sweeping the Angels, Reds, taking three of four from the Diamondbacks only to end the homestand by dropping two of three to Nolan Arenado and the Rockies.

Yesterday just so happened to be the first time the Cubs were shutout in 2016. Which will happen from time-to-time. You can’t expect a baseball team to score in every game they play. So we’re just going to have to brush that under the rug and move forward.

Now while our boys in pinstripes were cruising through the first few weeks of their lineup, the Cardinals (7-5) got off to a slow start. They were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road to open up their campaign and were outscored 15-7 in those three games.

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St. Louis did, however, get themselves back on track by sweeping the winless Atlanta Braves by scoring 31 runs over that weekend series. Mike Matheny‘s group had back-to-back 12 run games and continued to pour it on that following Monday when the Milwaukee Brewers rolled into town.

Taking the mound tonight for the Cardinals will be former Cincinnati Red, Mike Leake. Leake (0-1, 6.97 ERA) has pitched extremely well against the Cubs over the past five years, yielding only 10 RBI and four big flies. With his team trailing the Cubs by two games in the division, Matheny is hoping he can get the Cardinals off to a great start.

On the other end of the diamond, Joe Maddon will send out veteran right-hander John Lackey. Lackey (2-0, 5.68 ERA) made his Cubs debut in Arizona and was tagged for six earned runs. His second time around in a new uniform was much better as he held the Reds to two earned runs on six hits while issuing three walks and striking out seven across 6 2/3 innings.

Next: MM: NLDS rematch set between Cubs, Cards

He has yet to reach 100 pitches early on having hit 84 in Arizona and 90 in his Wrigley Field debut. Hopefully, he’ll be able to work into the seventh inning, leading the way for Pedro Strop and closer Hector Rondon to finish off the eighth and ninth.

Another former Cardinal making his return to St. Louis is none other than right-fielder Jason Heyward. Heyward played in 154 regular season games with the Redbirds last year, hammering 13 home runs, 60 RBI, four triples, 33 doubles and 160 hits while slashing .293/.359/.439. He’s off to a bit of a slow start having only two extra base hits and seven runs batted in.

Now here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups for both the Cubs and Cardinals:

First pitch is scheduled for 7:09 p.m. central time and will be aired live on ESPN and 670 The Score.

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