St. Louis Cardinals: Takeaways From the Opening Series
Given three run leads in the first and third games of the series, the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen surrendered the advantage both times, with the third game leading to a loss.
This title is a bit misleading – it’s not like the St. Louis Cardinals’ pen collectively collapsed in games one and three.
On Opening Night, closer Seung-Hwan Oh was summoned in the eighth inning with two on and one out. After hitting Kyle Schwarber with a pitch to load the bases, he induced fly balls to right field from both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to wiggle out of the jam without a run crossing the plate.
The ninth inning, however, was not as kind to the Final Boss. After a defensive miscue by first baseman Matt Carpenter put men on first and second for Chicago with one out, Wilson Contreras took Oh deep to tie the game at three.
Randal Grichuk ultimately bailed Oh out in the bottom half of the inning when he delivered a bases-loaded, walk-off single with two outs to win the game for St. Louis.
On Thursday, another three-run home run doomed the Cardinals. This time, Brett Cecil was on the mound as Schwarber delivered the go-ahead bomb in the seventh inning. Cecil didn’t record a single out in his second appearance in a Cardinals uniform, although Matt Szczur reached first base to begin the inning on Cecil’s strikeout pitch in the dirt.
Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny will rely on Cecil and Oh heavily this season. Cecil will be needed in exactly the scenario he entered into on Thursday: to protect a lead in the seventh inning. Oh will be called upon to finish off games in the ninth as he was on Sunday.
Both will be eager for the next opportunity they get to prove that their performance in the Chicago series was a fluke.