St. Louis, MO. USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright in the third inning at Busch Stadium. Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
Jeff Samardzija wasn't nearly as sharp Friday afternoon as he was in his first 2012 start; he gave up 10 hits and five runs in five innings and had to be pulled after 103 pitches in those innings.
But it didn't matter! For the second day in a row, the Cubs came out with bats screaming and gave their starting pitcher a huge cushion by the third inning. It wound up a 9-5 Cubs victory, giving the Cubs their first baby winning streak of the season, two games, and ruining the Cardinals' home opener.
Savor that for a moment, Cubs fans. The Cubs really wrecked St. Louis' home opener, at which they had scheduled all kinds of ceremonies, which also got delayed by rain. Too bad, so sad.
Unlike Thursday's win over the Brewers, in which the Cubs had a long-sequence offense with seven hits in one inning with no home runs, today's win was powered by two homers. Ian Stewart hit his first major league home run since 2010, a three-run shot in the first inning that made it 4-0.
And then Bryan LaHair just cleared the wall in left field into the Cubs' bullpen for a grand slam in the third, his first career grand slam...
... and the Cubs' first slam since October 2, 2010, when Aramis Ramirez hit one against the Astros at Houston. For the record, the last Cub to hit a grand slam at Wrigley Field was Kosuke Fukudome, who hit one late in a 13-5 loss to the Diamondbacks on April 29, 2010.
So it's been a while. But this team has shown signs of breaking out and being able to hit, even against good pitchers like Zack Greinke, and today, Adam Wainwright. With today's win, the Cubs have now outscored their opponents 36-32 in the eight games played this season.
Feel better now?
Even the justifiably-maligned bullpen did a good job today, throwing four shutout innings and allowing just two hits (both doubles) and issuing no walks. It was a good game for Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol, who both had terrible starts to this year, to get back in gear, and both of them looked good.
What did not look good were the gold numbers and logos on the Cardinals' uniforms, presumably there to celebrate their World Series win from last year. Maybe they looked good in person, or in still photos, but on television -- even in HD -- they were almost unreadable.
The Cubs will send Chris Volstad to the mound Saturday in a 12:05 p.m. CDT early start (on Fox-TV; I'll post the coverage map in the game preview) against the Cardinals' Lance Lynn, who took Chris Carpenter's spot in the rotation. Suddenly, this series looks winnable.