Game 1: Chicago 3-St. Louis Cardinals 2
In what was supposed to be a win for the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, turned into a flashback to the beginning of the season very quickly. Bad base running. Bad pitching. Stagnant offense. To make matters even worse, the Cardinals handed Cubs pitcher, Eddie Butler, his first win in almost a year.
WP: Eddie Butler
LP: Mike Leake
S: Wade Davis
The Cubs used the long ball to give Butler a nice cushion as he cruised through six innings of two hit ball. The star of the night for the Cubs, though, was their young catcher, Wilson Contreras. Contreras hit two home runs in his first two at bats against Mike Leake. Both homer runs were solo shots, so Leake did well to keep the damage to a minimum.
However, Contreras also almost cost the Cubs the game.
With a runner on second base, Kolten Wong struck out on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. The pitch escaped Contreras just enough to rush a seemingly easy throw. The throw sailed on Contreras and the ball ended up in shallow right, allowing Randall Grichuk to score from second. Wong was able to advance to second on the play, but Wade Davis closed the door on the Cardinals.
However, you can’t overlook Contreras’ pick off of Dexter Fowler in the 7th inning. With runners on first and second, Contreras threw behind Fowler and nabbed him to end the scoring threat for the Cardinals. It was a great throw and great vision to nab Fowler. Remember that bad base running comment?
So what are the big takeaways from Game One?
Mike Leake continues to pitch well for the St. Louis Cardinals. His final line was 6 innings pitched, two earned runs, three walks, and five strike outs. This outing turned out to be his seventh quality start in seven tries this season for the Cardinals. It’s a little disappointing that the Cardinals were not able to score much for him.
Then one thing that I noticed from Leake’s performance was that he kept some balls up in the zone. The three walks stand out a bit, seeing as how well he has been able to control them. However, Leake did an excellent job of controlling those situations. He gave up two solo home runs and kept the game close.
My next take away was the stagnant offense.
It seems like the Cardinals really, really struggle when they face an unknown guy. It’s understandable at times, but, as I mentioned earlier, the guy had not won in almost a year. Plus, he had a six plus ERA going into this start. The frustration from Cardinals fans is also understandable.
The Cardinals managed two get two hits off Butler, which were infield singles by Aledmys Diaz. The only other hits were Randal Grichuk’s home run in the seventh and Yadier Molina‘s single in the ninth. With the return of Dexter Fowler it’s interesting to see how Mike Matheny constructed his lineup. Even with Leake’s performance, the offense couldn’t muster any fight.
However, there was one last takeaway from this game that really had me upset.
Brett Cecil was brought on to be a left handed specialist and so far has disappointed in the twenty games he has appeared in for the Cardinals. He sports a whopping 5.79 ERA and has given up three home runs in the twenty games. To put that into perspective for you, last year he gave up six home runs in fifty-four games. Yeah, no thanks.
But, wait it gets worse. The home run Cecil gave up was to none other than Tommy La Stella (with respects to La Stella). La Stella, who hadn’t hit a home run in however long, was able to hit a home run off Cecil in the seventh inning. What’s that you ask? Why yes, he is left handed.