The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs battled for a second straight night in playoff-style baseball. Similar to last year, these teams are evenly matched. The fans will be treated to more close games all season.
The Chicago Cubs are the defending world series champions (gag me with a spoon). For the entire offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals silently improved in the shadow of the Chicago skyline. The early results of the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals indicate a team that is evenly matched with the Chicago Cubs. The highlight thus far includes Carlos Martinez leading a dominant staff.
Few pundits predicted much from the St. Louis Cardinals; indeed, most analysts predict that the birds on the bat will miss the playoffs or will scratch and claw to a wild card birth – followed by a quick exit from the postseason. Meanwhile, the baby bears are predicted by many to win it all once again.
While it remains to be seen which team will advance to October, one thing is clear: these teams are evenly matched head-to-head, and the fans should expect a plethora of close, exciting games. This statement may seem like a bold prediction to some fans (especially those on the north side of Chicago), but my prediction is neither bold nor surprising.
Last year, the Cubs and Cardinals were evenly matched head-to-head, and the Cardinals got better in the offseason. For those fans who see 2016 as a lost season for the St. Louis Cardinals, I understand and I relate to you. However, we should take a quick look back in order to gain clarity as we look forward to the remainder of the 2017 season.
The St. Louis Cardinals played the Cubs well in 2016
In 2016, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs played nineteen games, and the Cubs barely edged the good guys by winning ten of these games. What may surprise you, however, is that ten of the total nineteen games were decided by two runs or fewer. In those games, the Cubs won 4, and the St. Louis Cardinals won six.
Man, those close wins produced some great moments. Randal Grichuk hit his first walk-off home run in one of the most memorable moments. The culmination of the St. Louis Cardinals’ success was the June 20-22, 2016 sweep of the baby bears at Wrigley. Some of us saw those games in person (one of the few benefits of living in Cubs country).
The undisputed evidence shows that the St. Louis Cardinals played well against the Cubs last year. In 2017, we are two games into the season and the St. Louis Cardinals are repeating their 2016 success against the Cubs.
I know the win-loss record is 1-1, but what we have are two, one-run, playoff-style games. The 2016 season is screaming “I told you so.” Want to relive the majesty that was the opening night win? Jump over to this link for the recap.
The St. Louis Cardinals rose to the occasion, albeit in a loss, last night, and continue to remind the Cubs that they are a force with which to be reckoned. This team was built to beat the Cubs. We play them hard, wear down their pitchers, and put constant pressure on the defense. If that sounds familiar, that’s because the Cubs utilize the exact same strategy and approach against the St. Louis Cardinals.
(Randall Grichuk celebrating walk-off hit against Chicago Cubs – photo by J.B. Forbes of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.)
Indeed, after two games it appears that the St. Louis Cardinals are better than the baby bears. Two games are too small a sample to make any prediction, but twelve games is a little better. Twelve is the number of one or two run games between these two teams since the beginning of 2016.
My prediction is that these teams will continue to battle in close games. I am setting the over-under at 7 ½ more games decided by two or fewer runs. Let me know what you think!
While the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs are evenly matched, each team’s performance against the remainder of the national league central, and their performance in interleague play against the American league east will determine their October attendance sheets.
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I, for one, cannot wait to watch these teams get after it all season, and I am confident the St. Louis Cardinals will edge the Cubs head-to-head. What do you think?