You could have been forgiven if, around the second inning of Wednesday game, you had thought, “Here we go again.”
The Cubs had given up a first-inning run. Then Jordan Montgomery, who had thrown a one-hit complete game shutout the last time he threw in Wrigley Field, retired the first five Cubs in order. Then the Cubs loaded the bases and failed to score. Same old sad song, right?
Fortunately, no! The Cubs got the bats going and, led by a pair of home runs from Patrick Wisdom and Yan Gomes, crushed the Cardinals 10-4. It was the most runs the Cubs had scored since a 13-0 demolition of the Dodgers April 21.
From BCB’s JohnW53:
This is the first game in which the Cubs have scored at least 10 runs vs. the Cardinals since a 10-5 win at Wrigley on July 9, 2021. This was their 34th game against the Cards since then. In the previous 33, the Cubs had scored a total of 103 runs — 3.1 per game.
After failing to score in the second with the bases loaded, Justin Steele allowed another run to the Cardinals in the third.
But the Cubs offense got going in the fourth. Dansby Swanson doubled with one out, and one out later another double by Seiya Suzuki scored him [VIDEO].
The next hitter was Patrick Wisdom [VIDEO].
Wisdom’s 12th of the year gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead and also moved him into a second-place tie in home runs in MLB with Max Muncy, one behind Pete Alonso.
The Cubs extended the lead in the very next inning. Trey Mancini led off with a walk and Yan Gomes, just back from the concussion list, put a baseball into the bleachers [VIDEO].
It’s only one game back, but Gomes looked great, also drawing a walk and singling twice.
One more run scored in the fifth. Ian Happ led off with a double and advanced to third on a single by Suzuki. Wisdom hit into a double play, but Happ scored to make it 6-2 [VIDEO].
St. Louis scored once more off Justin Steele in the sixth. That snapped a streak for the Cubs lefthander:
Quality start Steele. Has 1.82 ERA this year. Allowed 3 earned runs over 6 IP.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 11, 2023
Alas, streak of consecutive starts with no more than 2 ER ends at 14. Tied Arrieta (July 30, 2015-April 4, 2016) for longest such run by a Cubs starter since at least 1912 (when ER tracking began).
Quality start, yes. Not quite as good as some of his previous outings, but good enough given the offensive explosion in this game. Here’s some data on Steele’s start [VIDEO].
The Cubs blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth. Mancini and Gomes singled, and Christopher Morel scored Mancini with this double [VIDEO].
After Nick Madrigal hit into a force play, Dansby Swanson doubled in two runs [VIDEO].
Swanson had himself a series against St. Louis:
Dansby Swanson before this series vs. STL: 7 extra-base hits in 152 plate appearances.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) May 11, 2023
Dansby Swanson during this series vs. STL: 6 extra-base hits in 13 plate appearances.
He's been locked in against the Cardinals.
That made it 9-3, and one more run was to come in the seventh. Mancini led off with a walk, his third of the game. He advanced to second on a single by Gomes, his third hit, and scored on this single by Morel [VIDEO].
Every Cubs batter had at least one hit (except Madrigal), and every Cub scored at least once (except Cody Bellinger, who had a quiet night going 1-for-5). This is the kind of varied offense this team is capable of, and it was especially good seeing them do it against Montgomery, who had been the Cardinals’ best starter up to this point.
Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger each threw a 1-2-3 inning of relief, good to see. Keegan Thompson, who had not pitched since Saturday, struggled a bit in the ninth, allowing three hits and a run, but finally ended the game on this play [VIDEO].
For those of you who say the Cubs aren’t a contender, I simply point you to the National League standings, where the Cubs have an identical record to the Mets and Phillies, both expected to be strong contenders this year, and one game worse than another pre-season pick to click, the Padres. The Cubs gained a game in the N.L. Central standings Wednesday and now trail the first-place Pirates (and you know that’s not going to last) by just 2½ games and the second-place Brewers by two games. The division is wide open for the taking and this Cubs team — and yes, it still needs help in some areas — are just as capable of winning it as any of the other Central ballclubs. The Cubs also stand just one game out of a wild card spot.
One more note on this game from BCB’s JohnW53:
Cubs batters had six walks and three strikeouts. The last time they had at least six walks and no more than three strikeouts was in a 3-2 win at home over the Phillies on May 21, 2019 — 537 games ago! They had 14 such games between 2000 and 2009, but this is only their 4th since. They did it in a 6-1 win at home over the Braves in 2016 and in a 6-3 loss at home to the Cardinals in 2018.
The Cubs will enjoy a day off Thursday and then head to the Twin Cities where they’ll take on the Twins in a three-game series that begins Friday evening. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and old Reds friend Sonny Gray goes for Minnesota. Game time Friday is 7:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Apple TV+ (how to watch).