The Cubs have struggled lately — this, you know.
Friday afternoon, they discovered the perfect remedy to this was the Cardinals pitching staff, which, yikes.
The Cubs put together a 12-hit offense, capped by a two-run homer by Patrick Wisdom that put the game away, and along with another strong outing from Kyle Hendricks, defeated the Cardinals 10-5. In so doing they took over sole possession of third place in the NL Central. Which, baby steps.
Let’s rewind to the beginning of this sun-kissed Friday affair at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs got a break on the second batter of the game. Paul Goldschmidt lofted a fly ball down the right-field line and what is that arm doing in there? [VIDEO]
That fan reached so far over the wall that he was actually in fair territory. The umpires conferred, called Goldschmidt out for fan interference. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt asked for a review, on which it was “call confirmed,” pretty obvious. The fan was escorted off the premises.
After Hendricks finished the first with no further incident, the Cubs offense got to work. Willson Contreras walked and Wisdom and Javier Báez singled. One out later, Joc Pederson cleared the bases [VIDEO].
A 3-0 first-inning lead! But, the Cubs have had other recent first-inning leads that evaporated. Not in this one. Hendricks had a bit of trouble in the third, when RBI singles by Tyler O’Neill and Yadier Molina made it 3-2.
The Cubs put a run on the board in the fourth. With runners on first and second and two out, David Ross sent Ian Happ to bat for Jake Marisnick, which I thought was an odd move so early in the game.
It’s 4-2 Cubs and Hendricks, now, was on a roll. He allowed a one-out double in the fifth, but helped himself out by spearing a couple of line drives in the inning, including this one off O’Neill’s bat to end the frame [VIDEO].
No, none of us knew Kyle could leap like that!
Hendricks was finally pulled with one out in the seventh after he walked Dylan Carlson. At 93 pitches, I understood that, had he retired Carlson he might have been left in to face one more hitter. It was another solid Professor outing, allowing just the two runs on seven hits. He struck out only one, but got help from his and his teammates’ defense.
The Cubs blew the game open in the bottom of the seventh.
Happ and Pederson led off with walks, and one out later Heyward was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Kris Bryant, nursing a sore hamstring, was announced to pinch hit, to a loud ovation.
You could tell Bryant was still not at full speed. The ball got far away from Carlson in center field and many runners would have taken third, but KB pulled up at second and then was replaced by pinch-runner Sergio Alcántara.
After Contreras grounded out, Wisdom made it a five-run Cubs inning [VIDEO].
That’s a well-struck baseball off a 99 mile per hour fastball. Now it’s 9-2 and things should have been easy, but as you know, nothing’s ever easy for the Cubs lately.
Dan Winkler struggled, loading the bases on a pair of walks and a ground ball that should have been thrown to first base by Nico Hoerner, instead he threw on an awkward angle for an error. That forced Ross to summon Andrew Chafin to record the last out of the eighth.
The Cubs plated one final run in the eighth. Pederson hit his second double of the afternoon with one out, and one out later, Heyward drove him in [VIDEO].
Things should have continued to be easy with an eight-run lead, so Kyle Ryan was entrusted with the ninth inning and... uh-oh, a double, single and two-run homer by Paul DeJong (that guy just wears Cubs pitching out) made it 10-5. A meeting on the mound must have straightened Ryan out, because he then got two quick ground-ball outs and struck out Tommy Edman to end it [VIDEO].
A win is a win, and of course a win over the Cardinals is always enjoyable. The Cubs improved to 6-1 on the season over St. Louis and as I said above, yikes, that Cardinals pitching staff looks awful. Mike Shildt used seven relievers, which, fine, that helps wear them out for the rest of the weekend. Cardinals pitchers threw 182 pitches on the afternoon. Cubs pitchers... well, they weren’t exactly efficient after The Professor, who threw 93 pitches. The four relievers used threw 60 pitches, so that’s a total of 335 for the game. The MLB average for a nine-inning game is about 255, so... yes, that’s why this game ran three hours, 57 minutes.
The Cubs will go for two in a row over the Cardinals Saturday evening at Wrigley Field. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs and Kwang Hyun Kim is the scheduled starter for St. Louis. Game time is 6:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Fox-TV (coverage map).