After being rained out on Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals reconvened Thursday for the rubber game of the series with the Cubs taking the finale, 6-4.
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, coach Joe Maddon thought staying in St. Louis another night was like “concluding [the team’s] second spring training.” His remarks aren’t so much of a shot at the Cubs long-time rivals as it is their offense’s sluggish performance in the first two games.
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Last season, this Cubs lineup would have been licking their chops to face Cardinals’ starter Lance Lynn. Coming into today’s contest, Lynn was 6-6 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.312 WHIP against the North Siders with 33 walks in 80 total innings. The Cubbies are slashing .241/.391/.718 against the righty, collecting eight home runs and a 2.98 BAbip.
However, Lynn was able to hold the Cubs offense at bay this afternoon following a hot start by his team against Cubs veteran hurler John Lackey. The Cardinals batted around in the first inning, lacing three consecutive singles to open up their lead at 3-0. Lackey needed nearly thirty pitches to get out of the first frame, recording the final out via a fly out to center by Lynn with the bases loaded.
Piling it on quickly
Following his rough first inning, Lackey settled in and cowboy’d-up. The next hit the Cardinals got off of him was in the fifth inning, a long double by Aledmys Diaz which broke up Lackey’s consecutive out streak at nine.
Chicago’s offense responded to Lackey’s success, scoring six runs between the fifth and seventh innings. Jon Jay started the scoring by recording his first RBI as a Cub with a single to center, bringing in Jason Heyward from third. In the sixth and seventh, Addison Russell brought in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant on fielder’s choices. Kyle Schwarber added a helping hand with a three-run bomb in the seventh as well, stretching a lead the Cubs wouldn’t relinquish to 6-4.
Bullpen taking shape
Maddon seems indecisive about who to use in what situations so far. That’s nothing out of the ordinary for a manager prone to experimentation such as Papa Joe is. However, Maddon may have found a set-up trio in Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr.
Both Rondon and Strop provided solid relief for Lackey after his six inning, seven strikeout performance. They combined to throw 1.1 innings, giving up no hits or runs.
Edwards Jr. ended the Cardinals scoring opportunities in the eighth after a fielding error by Strop put two men on with less than two outs. He blew a fastball by Game 1’s hero Randal Grichuk and dropped Uncle Charley off at Jedd Gyorko’s knees to end the frame.
The Cubs are heading north to Milwaukee for a weekend series against the Brewers. Friday’s game begins at 7:10 P.M. CT.