Both starting pitchers in the game were originally signed or drafted by Theo when he was Red Sox general manager -- Felix Doubront signed out of Venezuela in 2005, Justin Masterson drafted in the second round in 2006. (And yes, I know Theo was briefly not the Boston GM for a while during that period, but both of those pitchers were definitely brought into the Red Sox chain under his regime.)
Doubront and Masterson were never teammates, though, in the Boston system. Masterson, a high draft pick, was fast-tracked through the system and about a year ahead of Doubront, and Masterson had been traded to the Indians the year before Doubront made his big-league debut in 2010. Saturday afternoon, the two faced each other for the first time. Doubront is trying to resurrect his career with the Cubs, while Masterson was acquired by the Cardinals in the hope he'd turn around his horrific first half with Cleveland.
The former might just be true. Doubront got hit a little bit in the early innings, then settled down and at one point retired nine straight Cardinals. He threw seven solid innings with four strikeouts and looked like he really knew what he was doing on the mound.
Masterson, meanwhile, continued his awful season with St. Louis as the Cubs cuffed him around hard, hitting three home runs in 4⅓ innings. That included Logan Watkins' first big-league homer and Starlin Castro's 14th, which ties his career high set in 2012. Chris Valaika hit the other homer, his second. Before this year Masterson was considered as being perhaps one of the top free-agent pitchers this coming offseason, but he has been beyond terrible with both Cleveland and St. Louis. The Cubs had six hits off him and even several of the outs they made off him were hit hard.
The Cubs scored a couple of runs before all the homers on a Chris Coghlan single, and the second run was credited after a review of an out call at the plate which was one of the more obvious bad calls I've seen reversed on review; it looked like plate umpire Alan Porter was out of position and simply couldn't see Chris Valaika get his hand on the plate before A.J. Pierzynski tagged him. As it turned out, that was a crew-chief review rather than a challenge by Rick Renteria, another one of the dreaded Rule 7.13 reviews -- and something's going to have to be done about that rule this offseason. It's just not working. Here's the play:
Watkins, who many of you have dismissed as a possible big leaguer, has played quite well since being given a chance to play. He's versatile and can play many positions and while he'll likely never be a major-league regular, I think he could be useful as a bench player. It would be valuable to get him some more starts before the end of this season to see what he can do. He singled in this one as well as homered and is now 7-for-16 with a double and the home run and four RBI.
And it was nice for the Cubs to generate some offense and win this game with both Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler on the bench.
Finally, this was yet another quick game, finished up in two hours, 40 minutes, enough for the teams to have a fair amount of rest (over three hours) in between games on a hot and sticky St. Louis day.
This was the first game the Cubs had won in any doubleheader since they split a pair with the Reds in Cincinnati August 18, 2012, more than two years ago. They'd been swept in four straight twin bills since then, one in 2013 and three earlier this year. They haven't swept a pair since August 13, 2008, when they took two from the Braves in Atlanta. That's a long time, six years, and it would be nice to see that change in the second game of this doubleheader, where the Cubs will go for the sweep with Tsuyoshi Wada facing Marco Gonzales. The game preview will post as part of the StoryStream at 6 p.m. CT.