On to game two of the series for the Cubs and Cardinals, and it will be fun to see – and also persistently nerve-wracking – if the intensity tonight can match last night. That is to say, and I don’t think I’m alone, I was hanging on every freaking pitch like it was a September game down the stretch. Maybe just get a bunch of runs early, eh, Cubs? Not sure I can take too much of this in April. It’s a long year.
Jason Hammel is coming off kind of an odd outing against the Reds, where he didn’t look his best, but didn’t give up a run. When he’s getting his fastball down in the zone, that’s when you know he’s on. When he’s up, he’s in trouble. He’s flashed so much good stuff in Spring Training and in his first start that I think he’s got some of that “first half Hammel” ready to break out soon.
Of course, the Cardinals are among the best offenses in baseball right now, they must be given some credit if they break through.
On the pitching side for the Cardinals, it’s the ever-effective-when-healthy Jaime Garcia. The Cubs last saw him in the playoffs, and they handled him very well – but he was reportedly sick at the time, so it’s questionably whether he was at his best. It’s unquestionable that he was at his best in his last start – a 13-strikeout shutout masterpiece against the Brewers. (Of course the Cubs are not the Brewers, so at least there’s that.)
Garcia doesn’t throw it all that hard, but he commands a wide array of pitches, mixes them up well, and locates very well. He also gets a whole lot of movement, which leads to a lot of weak contact. We’ll see if the Cubs can sustain their hard-hitting ways in this one, and if those firmly-struck balls actually lead to hits this time around.
Chicago Cubs (10-3) at St. Louis Cardinals (7-6), 7:15 CT on CSN+, MLB Network, 670 The Score.
Game Thread and Series Preview
Your game thread is down there in the comments, so have fun. But keep it “safe for work” type fun, all right?
Cubs: Jason Hammel (R)
- 2016: 0.75 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 5.02 xFIP; 1.29 K/BB
- 2015: 3.74 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 3.47 xFIP; 4.30 K/BB
Cardinals: Jaime Garcia (L)
- 2016: 2.40 ERA, 1.39 FIP, 2.20 xFIP; 4.75 K/BB
- 2015: 2.43 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 3.36 xFIP; 3.23 K/BB
St. Louis Cardinals Lineup
1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Jeremy Hazelbaker, RF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Matt Adams, 1B
5. Randal Grichuk, CF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Kolten Wong, 2B
8. Ruben Tejada, SS
9. Jaime Garcia, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Jorge Soler, LF
6. Ben Zobrist, 2B
7. Miguel Montero, C
8. Addison Russell, SS
9. Jason Hammel, P
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.