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Cardinals 5, Cubs 3: It Happ-ened, But The Cubs Lost

Ian Happ homered in his first big-league game, but he couldn’t lead the team to victory.

MLB: Chicago Cubs-Media Day
There’s no up-to-date photo of Ian Happ from this game, so here’s a posed shot of him from Media Day in February in Mesa
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Happ’s much-awaited major-league debut was a success, for him, anyway. He walked and hit a two-run homer, but the Cubs lost to the Cardinals 5-3. I think most players would tell you they’d rather go 0-for-4 and their team win than go 4-for-4 and their team lose, so in that sense, his debut was a failure — for his team.

But it’s clear that Happ belongs at the big-league level, and as for now, it’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll stay.

Jon Lester got the Cubs on the board in the second inning and missed, by only a few inches, hitting his first big-league home run. Watch! [VIDEO]

The smash, to the deepest part of Busch Stadium, scored Javier Baez to make it 1-0. Lester appears to have Carlos Martinez’s number:

Not only that, but Lester is now 3-for-13 lifetime at Busch Stadium and 5-for-23 against the Cardinals overall. Something about those Redbird uniforms gets Jon’s bat going, apparently.

The Cardinals tied the game thanks in part to a throwing error by Willson Contreras after a stolen base by Tommy Pham. They extended the lead to 3-1 in the fourth, one of the runs scoring on a homer by Jedd Gyorko.

Happ was involved in a somewhat controversial play in the fifth inning when the Cubs could have cut the lead to 3-2. With runners on first and third and one out, Anthony Rizzo grounded to Martinez, who threw to second for an out. Happ slid into second and no throw was made, but the umpires immediately ruled that Happ had made an illegal slide. Here, you decide [VIDEO].

Well, I dunno. I know what the rule says, but you’d think there should be some room for interpretation here. There’s no way a double play would have been completed even if Happ hadn’t slid through the fielder. But since he didn’t maintain contact with second base, the rule says the second out has to be recorded.

Kyle Schwarber would have scored a run had there been only one out recorded and the inning would have continued, but with the DP completed the run was negated.

I’m suggesting maybe there needs to be a change in that rule that allows for some umpire judgment on plays like that. There wasn’t any intent on Happ’s part there, I don’t think.

The Cardinals extended their lead to 5-1 in the sixth; Lester was taken out after a walk moved his pitch count to 112 and Pedro Strop followed by allowing a run-scoring double and run-scoring single.

Later in the game, Happ had his first major-league hit. And first major-league home run. And first two major-league RBI, as it came with Albert Almora Jr. on base.

That made the score 5-3 and Mike Montgomery held the Cardinals from scoring for two good innings of relief. But the Cubs could not score off Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth.

In the ninth, Ben Zobrist pinch-hit and singled with two out. Schwarber then hit a deep fly ball that fell a few feet short of a game-tying homer, caught by Dexter Fowler on the warning track in center field.

The beautiful 80-degree day and the great rivalry between the teams set a record:

So the Cubs once again come into the third game of a road series with a chance to win the series. They had the same opportunity the last time they were in St. Louis, where they split the first two of the season-opening series at Busch. That time, they came from behind and won. Hopefully, a win Sunday will make for another series win. Jake Arrieta will go for the Cubs and Adam Wainwright for the Cardinals.