The St. Louis Cardinals came into Wrigley Field with an 11-24 record and had looked bad most of the season.
Naturally, that resulted in a 3-1 Cubs loss to their arch-rivals. A lot of stuff happened, most of it bad, so let’s get to it.
First, I want to address the reception Willson Contreras received when announced in the St. Louis starting lineup and when a tribute video was played. Boos and cheers were mixed, and he was booed again every time he came to bat. Honestly, that was uncalled for. Regardless of what you think of Contreras’ statements after he signed with the Cardinals, he provided lots of great play and fond memories here. The booing... I just didn’t get it. I suppose he’s been tagged “arch-enemy” now. We’ll see if it continues.
You can hear some of that reaction in this clip from the Cardinals broadcast [VIDEO].
The Cardinals began the scoring with three singles off Marcus Stroman in the second inning. Meanwhile, the Cubs were continuing their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. First and third with two out in the first: Seiya Suzuki struck out. First and second with one out in the second: Tucker Barnhart struck out and Nico Hoerner flied to right.
Then came a fateful fifth. Patrick Wisdom and Barnhart led off with walks. Nico hit a ground ball to short. The Cardinals forced Barnhart at second and Hoerner was called out on a close play at first. On review, the call was overturned [VIDEO].
Okay, that’s good, runners on first and third, one out. Again.
Dansby Swanson followed with a double, scoring Wisdom to tie the game [VIDEO].
Unfortunately, Nico felt “hamstring tightness” rounding second [VIDEO}.
Hoerner left the game, and here’s where I have a bone to pick with David Ross. Why is Christopher Morel not in the game at this point? This is one of the specific reasons to even have Morel on the team. Why Nick Madrigal? Okay, okay, you know how I feel about Madrigal, but this would have been a perfect situation for Morel to make his season debut.
That’s especially true because of this [VIDEO].
What are you thinking, Willie Harris and Nick Madrigal? That was a bad send. Now, I’m not saying Morel would have been any less out on that play, but... yikes, that was a bad send, especially since had Madrigal stayed at third, the bases would still have been loaded and Suzuki at the plate. You can’t give up outs like that in a tie game on a cold night with the wind howling in.
A leadoff walk then got Stroman in trouble in the sixth. Two outs later, Contreras drove in the run that gave the Cardinals the lead.
Again, the Cubs had a RISP in the bottom of the sixth, with two out. Nothing doing there, Miguel Amaya was sent up to bat for Barnhart and struck out.
The same thing happened in the eighth off Michael Fulmer: Leadoff walk. The runner advanced to second on a single and scored on a poor choice by Wisdom, who thought he might throw home. The hesitation cost the Cubs a possible inning-ending double play [VIDEO].
The runner on third was off on contact. There was no chance of a play at the plate; had Wisdom thrown to second right away, a double play probably ends the inning.
The Cubs had just one baserunner over the last three innings, so that’s not going to cut it.
Here’s the update on Nico Hoerner:
No further update postgame on Nico Hoerner, who exited early due to left hamstring tightness. Ross said Hoerner will undergo imaging Tuesday morning. Cubs will have more info pregame.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 9, 2023
Hopefully, this is nothing serious and Nico might just miss a couple of games. The best-case scenario is probably for him to sit Tuesday and Wednesday, then return against the Twins in Minnesota Friday after Thursday’s off day. Fingers crossed.
Here’s what Nico means to this team:
Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman, on the importance of Nico Hoerner, who exited Monday’s game with left hamstring tightness⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Xjo3trzYX1— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 9, 2023
I concur with Stroman’s thoughts. And if Hoerner is out for a couple of days — well then, get Morel in the lineup. His energy — as well as his domination of Triple-A pitching — could really give a boost to this team.
Stroman put together a really good start. Two runs in six innings definitely puts your team in position to win. Here’s the breakdown of his outing [VIDEO].
Unfortunately, you are not going to win games going 1-for-7 with RISP and leaving nine runners on base, and given all that, again I’m going to say sending Madrigal in the fifth inning was a really poor choice.
Anyway, moving on. The Cubs and Cardinals meet again Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field. Jameson Taillon will start for the Cubs and Jack Flaherty will go for St. Louis. Game time is 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.