This past weekend the St. Louis Cardinals traveled to Chicago to face the Cubs in a 5 game series, which was the first one of the year. This series was big for the Cardinals as they were only a few games back of the Brewers for 1st place in the NL central, so let’s take a look at each game and see what went down.
Game 1: Cardinals 5, Cubs 7
Game 1 was a battle of the young lefties as Matthew Liberatore was going up against Keegan Thompson. Libby got lit up by the Cubs offense allowing homeruns to Wilson Contreras, Frank Schwindel and Ian Happ which lead to him getting pulled out after 3.1 innings pitched. Thompson on the other hand was solid only letting up 3 runs over 5.1 innings pitched. Harrison Bader hit a late home-run to cut the Cubs lead to two but they aren’t able to compete the comeback. The main takeaway from this 1st game is showing that Libby isn’t ready for the big leagues and needs to sharpen up back in Memphis before taking back his rotation spot.
Game 2: Cardinals 14, Cubs 5
Game 2 was focused on the offensive eruption from the Cardinals. Patrick Wisdom started out the game with a 3 run homer for the Cubs putting them up 3-0, but that’s about all the offense they had. For the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt had a 3 run homer, Corey Dickerson had 2 homers, Nolan Gorman had a filthy 3 run homerun. RBI’s by Lars Nootbaar and Andrew Knizner put the birds plenty ahead of the cubbies. Along with the offense eruption we saw the debut of Zack Thompson, who was the Cardinals 2019 first round pick. He went 4 innings of 1 run baseball to help save the bullpen in preparation for the next days doubleheader.
Game 3: (Doubleheader game 1) Cardinals 1, Cubs 6
In classic Cardinals fashion they don’t know how to score after putting up a big number the day before. They were up against Matt Swarmer, who’s one of the Cubs top pitching prospects, and he did exactly what they needed him to do. The Cardinals threw Johan Oviedo at Chicago, who gave up 3 runs on eight hits. Tommy Edman continued to prove why he’s the most underrated 2nd basemen in the league with another home run, but besides that it was a real quiet game for St. Louis.
Game 4: (Doubleheader game 2) Cardinals 7, Cubs 4
In the Night slate of the doubleheader each team went with a more unusual starter. The Cardinals threw Andre Pallante, who mainly was coming out of the bullpen, and the Cubs threw Caleb Killian their top pitching prospect. Both did very well, as Pallante only gave up 1 run while Killian gave up 3 runs in 5 innings. However, the story of this game was Brendan Donovan who had 3 hits and 4 RBI’s for the Cardinals including a go ahead 2 run double to put the Cardinals up 5-3 in the top of the 10th. Harrison Bader gave them an insurance RBI and Giovanny Gallegos finished up his 2nd inning of work to secure the win.
Game 5: Cardinals 5, Cubs 3
In the rubber match of the series St Louis sent Adam Wainwright to the mound to face Cubs Justin Steele. Each team was low on pitching help, so each starter needed to go as long as possible. Adam Wainwright had a solid start with 7 strong innings, only giving up 2 runs on 9 hits. Steele on the other hand was almost identical going 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 7 hits.
The story of this game, however, was the Cardinals heroics. Once Wainwright got knocked out the game they went to the only reliever they had available in Genesis Cabrera and he went 4 strong innings only giving up 1 run on 2 hits. The heroics continue as Lars Nootbaar picked up an RBI in the top of the 9th to keep the game tied at 3 after P.J. Higgins gave the Cubs the lead in the 8th inning. Enter Juan Yepez who in the top of the 11th hit a line drive to pick up the go ahead RBI and Brendan Donovan, the hero of this series, gave the Cardinals an insurance run and Genesis finished off the game with the win.
Coming away from this series I can take away 3 big things. One, Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez continue to prove why they should be on the MLB roster, coming up clutch time and time again. Two, the Cardinals can score the baseball, whether it’s small ball base hits or a home run. 3rd, and arguably the most important is that St.Louis needs pitching. The Cardinals currently sit a half game back of the Brewers for 1st place and the only way the Cardinals can take the division is with the addition of a starting pitcher and a reliever. Johan Oviedo and Jake Woodford shouldn’t be pitching for a playoff team so with the addition of an arm or two the Cardinals can bolster up in preparation to take the division.