Despite Jake Arrieta's great start to Tuesday's first game, he seemed to run out of gas in the seventh inning when the Cardinals cut the Cubs' lead to 3-2 and the first thing you think is, "Uh-oh, here we go again."
But the Cubs broke through against a couple of miscellaneous Cardinals relievers, including former Cub Miguel Socolovich, in the eighth, scoring four runs. The big blow was Anthony Rizzo's 16th home run of the season, launched into a strong wind, and the Cubs had a 7-4 win over the Cardinals.
Arrieta was outstanding through six innings, allowing just four hits and just one runner past first base in that span, helped out by two double plays, both very nicely turned by Starlin Castro. The Cubs broke through for a pair in the second and another run on a bases-loaded walk to Jorge Soler in the sixth, a welcome sight as Soler seems to have been called out on strikes so many times on questionable pitches. Maybe now he's finally going to reap the benefit of taking those bad calls silently.
Dexter Fowler and Chris Denorfia also drove in runs in the Cubs' eighth inning that appeared to put the game away -- that is, until Neil Ramirez took the mound for the ninth. Jason Motte had been up, throwing in anticipation of a save situation, but sat down once the lead had been extended to four.
Ramirez wasn't good. Jason Heyward singled and Mark Reynolds launched a long home run that made the last row in left field in the section right next to me. After a strikeout, Joe Maddon called on Motte anyway, and he got the final two outs without incident.
Many kudos to Arrieta, who likely would have made the All-Star team if he wasn't scheduled to pitch this Sunday against the White Sox -- it appears there's been a general agreement by All-Star managers that Sunday starters simply won't be selected to the team. Arrieta certainly deserves it. He also had two hits in the game and scored a run. Now Jon Lester has some catching up to do with Arrieta -- they both had one hit coming into this game. Now Arrieta has three.
Only one cautionary tale from this game -- even scoring seven runs, the Cubs left 14 men on base, including leaving the bases loaded three times. They were just 3-for-15 with RISP. Since they won the game, I won't complain too much, but this kind of thing just has to get better as the season goes along.
This recap is a bit shorter than usual because I am sitting writing it in a friend's place across Waveland from the left-field bleachers. He's kindly allowed me to use his laptop, but has to leave for the airport shortly so I'm a bit pressed for time. Thanks, Ken -- appreciate the help, and I'll close simply by saying that it was a beautiful sunny afternoon at the ballpark, though probably 25 degrees cooler than it should be this time of year. It felt more like a May afternoon than July.
You will see a game preview post here at 6 p.m. CT for Game 2 -- it will contain the lineups and pitching matchup, and then the usual game threads for a night game at the usual time. The recap for the night game will post as usual tomorrow morning.
Let's win two!