Whoa. That went from WOO! to WHEW! in the span of a single throw. About that in a moment, but for now, up top, the headline is: Cubs beat the Cardinals in St. Louis to open this three-game series, and it feels REALLY good to get pumped about a May win. I know the last couple weeks haven’t been fun, but that was great.
It was all solo homers for the Cubs in this one, as Willson Contreras went deep twice with rockets, and Tommy La Stella rainbowed one just barely out down the line to right – and then ended up being the deciding run in the game. That’s 13 of the Cubs’ last 15 home runs that have been solo shots. Given how much they get on base, that’s just crazy bad luck. It’ll turn.
What an interesting start from Eddie Butler. I use that word “interesting” in the most sincere sense, because he did not look anything like what I was expected, based on everything we’d come to understand about his recommitment to the two-seamer. Perhaps he just didn’t have it early, but I saw what looked like a consistent 95mph four-seamer riding up in the zone, generating whiffs and weak contact. For all his success at Iowa this year, he actually hadn’t been getting a ton of ground balls, so maybe we heard a little bit of zigging and zagging with what was really going on with his arsenal? Or maybe it was just a matter of the two-seamer not working for him early tonight, and making adjustments on the fly? Like I said: interesting.
The results were obviously excellent, with six scoreless innings. You don’t want to see the three walks, and if he’s going to challenge guys up in the zone like that, you might want even more strikeouts. But the lack of hits was not a fluke – the Cardinals were not getting good swings on him tonight. Much more on Butler’s outing later.
Koji Uehara had a great 8th inning, and clearly has Joe Maddon’s trust. Wade Davis did not have his best command in the 9th, but he did manage to strike out Kolten Wong for the final out of the game with a runner on second … except it was a bounced pitch, and Anthony Rizzo couldn’t handle Willson Contreras’s aggressive throw to first base. That allowed the tying run to reach second base, and allowed all of us to clench very tightly. But Davis got it back and struck out pinch hitter Matt Adams on three pitches.
Not that we’re mad at Contreras. Not only did he homer twice in the game, he also came up with a huge pick-off at first base to end a seventh inning that featured Carl Edwards Jr. allowing a homer to Randal Grichuk (who else?), walking two, getting pulled for Hector Rondon, and then Rondon had gone 2-0 on Tommy Pham. It was very tense, and Contreras ended that tension.