The St. Louis Cardinals shook off any signs of shellshock from the home opener to defeat the Chicago Cubs on another rainy day in St. Louis. The Birds celebrated the presentation of their World Championship rings (complete with Rally Squirrel) with a win over their archrival Chicago Cubs. In a game that was delayed for two hours (1:59 officially) the Cards and pitcher Lance Lynntreated the 46,792 fans on hand to the first home win of the year defeating the Cubbies 5-1.
Yadier Molina paced the Cardinals on offense with a two hit, two RBI performance. He even threw in a stolen base to boot enabling the Birds to snap a two game skid and secure a “ring day” win. Once the special ceremony was concluded the Cardinals sent a different looking line up out onto the field. Due to several injuries and a last minute scratch of MVP David Freese the Cards relied on an assortment of subs to get the job done. As Chris Carpenter’s stand in Lynn (2-0) gave up four hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five, walked two and lowered his ERA to 1.50. In only his fourth major league start Lynn set the Cubbies down in order in three of the first four innings. Giving up just two hits over the first five innings.
Matt Carpenter, starting at first base for Lance Berkman, contributed a double and Daniel Descalso, starting at third for David Freese, had an RBI triple in the game’s decisive four-run fourth inning. The Cardinals broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the fourth off Chris Volstad (0-1). Molina brought in Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter with a single up the middle. Descalso had an RBI triple and Tyler Greene added an RBI single.
The depth of the organization was definitely on full display as the makeshift line up produced a win and hopefully a springboard to another victory today to secure the series win. Daniel Descalso and John Jay who earned their starting spots as “super subs” now have rings to prove that these roles are important part of everyday play. Jay hit his second homer in three days to push the Redbirds lead to 5-1.
Chicago finally scored in the sixth on Starlin Castro’s RBI single. J.C. Romero relieved Lynn and struck out Ian Stewart and Bryan LaHair to end the threat. The St. Louis bullpen allowed just two hits over the final three innings. Romero turned in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski pitched the eighth. Jason Motte retired the side on seven pitches in the ninth.
Volstad allowed six hits and three runs over six innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter but was unable to overcome a 13-pitch hiccup in the fourth inning.
Lance Berkman is still day-to-day with a sore calf. While Manager Mike Matheny stated that Freese could have gone today, he chose to rest him. The organization will keep a close eye on the injury and we will see over the next few days how this plays out. At this point I don’t believe that this will be an extended injury situation, but it has caused him difficulty holding on to the bat after some swings during Friday nights game.
The Cardinals have had quite the celebration the last couple of days with the home opener and all of the former greats who were on hand to start the year. The Ring Ceremony yesterday was minus a couple of faces, but former first base coach Dave McKay happened to be in town. McKay is now the first base coach for the Cubs. At former Manager Tony LaRussa’s request the Cards included him in the ceremony as well. When his name was called he trotted out of the visitor’s dugout to accept his ring. I love the irony of him showing off that ring in the Cub’s dugout.
Coach Duncan has been in town this weekend for all of the festivities associated with his work last year. All indications at this time are that Dunc won’t be returning this season. While his wife is responding well to the treatment, he feels that he needs to be with her. That’s exactly where he should be.
Utility fielder Skip Schumaker (oblique) will start a rehab assignment this week, probably with the Class AAA club in Memphis. Schumaker has been hitting pain-free this weekend at Busch Stadium.
In a word Cards fans don’t normally associate with the Cubs, Manager Dale Sveum made sure his club was present and attentive during the ring ceremony. Sveum made his players watch the festivities. “It’s important to show respect for the world champions,” Sveum said. “And it’s a pretty awesome ring.”.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
The Cards will face the Cubs in the rubber match today at 1:15. The Cubs will trot Paul Maholm (0-1) to the mound. The Cardinals will send Jake Westbrook (1-0) to the hill to seal the series win. Westbrook is 7-15 in April since 2005, with a 5.52 ERA — nearly a run higher than his ERA in any other month during that span. He was 2-2 with a 6.53 ERA in April last season before finishing 12-9 with a 4.66 ERA, earning his most victories since 2006, when he won 15 games for Cleveland.
Maholm allowed six runs over four innings of a 7-4 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday, his debut for the Cubs after spending his first seven major league seasons in Pittsburgh. He gave up five of those runs in the first inning. He’s 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three lifetime starts at Busch Stadium, but 1/3 with a 5.27 ERA in his last seven overall matchups with the Cardinals.
The line up could be very similar to yesterday as Berkman and Freese are listed as day to day. Both teams will mark the 65th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. All players will wear No. 42 as part of a tribute to Robinson’s legacy.