Duck, Duck, Oops: Cubs Confound Cards, Give St. Louis the Bird in Second Half of Twin Bill
Normally it’s the gulls getting all the airtime at Wrigley, but Tuesday night’s contest saw a different breed of feathered friend roaming the area near the Cardinals dugout. And it wouldn’t be the only fowl near the first-base line that the visitors were concerned with. Not since Howard have I been more pleased with the exploits of a duck.
For a while, there was a feeling that the Cubs might be in for another one of their patent-pending 1-0 victories, which would have prompted a title of Duck, Duck, Goose Egg. But alas, things got really Cardinalrific in the 6th and it appeared that the Cubs’ goose was cooked.
After disrespecting 90 on a line shot to right, Jhonny Peralta ended up with a single that was nearly as incongruous as the spelling of his first name, though I’m sure Khris Davis and Dwyane Wade would disagree. Then Justin Grimm came on and promptly started slinging wild pitches, though that was also on newly-promoted Taylor Teagarden behind the plate.
Either way, the Cardinals were able to beg, borrow, and steal a couple runs and it appeared as though their typical devilry would earn them yet another victory. But then a funny thing happened: the Cubs began to do to the Cards what the Cards typically do to everyone else.
With one out in the 7th, Seth Maness walked Miguel Montero — who was pinch-hitting for Teagarden — and then allowed a hit to Jon Herrera, of all people. Next up was the slumping Addison Russell, who fired a cue shot down the first base line on an excuse-me swing that even he didn’t think would result in anything of note.
But the first base umpire called the ball fair and it scooted into the bullpen, allowing Montero to come around to score. Maness was livid about the call and was actually ejected for arguing the call, despite his poor viewing angle of it. To be fair though, these calls never go against the Cardinals, so he had a valid beef.
Then Dexter Fowler hit a come-backer to new pitcher Kevin Siegrist who turned and fired to second to initiate a double play and…airmailed the ball into center field? Well, I’ll be ducked. This may have been the most un-Cardinal-like series I’ve ever witnessed. Maness may have been thrown out the right way, but the errors and mental lapses were not the least bit classy.
The Cubs would go on to add another tally on an Anthony Rizzo sac fly and then tacked on an insurance run that would prove to be pretty important when Starlin Castro showed some sac of his own in the 8th. But about those extra runs.
Jason “They Are Not My Cardinals” Motte, who was pressed into service in the first half of the double-header entered the game in the 9th to close things out and promptly gave up back-to-back singles to Randall Grichuk and Peter Bourjos to open the frame. After a Pete Kozma flyout, Motte gave up an RBI single to Tony Cruz.
Then, with Matt Carpenter representing the winning run at the plate, the bearded back-end bullpen beast rared back and fired a 95 mph heater that was popped harmlessly to Kris Bryant in foul territory. On the next pitch, he dialed it up a nothc and fired anohter fastball to Peralta, this one a 96 mph bullet that sawed the All-Star’s bat in two and resulted in a force at second.
It always feels good to beat the Cardinals, but this one felt especially so. After being embarrassed on the road a couple weeks ago and dropping the series opener in inglorious fashion, the Cubs were able to pull off a twin killing in a twin bill. Somewhere Ernie Banks is smiling. Well, he was always smiling, but I imagine it’s a little brighter tonight.
I’m not about moral victories, but the wins today guarantee a series split and it feels as though the Cubs are playing with house money to a certain extent. While there’s still a lot of baseball to play, they needed to prove that they could beat the Cardinals. Watching today’s game was like seeing Rocky battle Ivan Drago in Russia; the Cubs proved that the Cardinals are, in fact, human.
If this young team can take 3 of the next 4 games heading into the break, it’ll give them a huge boost heading into the break. Think about it: the Cubs could finish the first half at 11 games over before finishing up July with a very light schedule. Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are, but that 5-game skid is already out of sight.
That’s the beauty of a manager who doesn’t allow the pressure to exceed the pleasure and a group of young players that doesn’t know better than to fall victim to the Cubs swoons we’re all waiting for. These guys may not even know what they don’t know and that’s a good thing sometimes.
I’m not sure if he was able to save anyone 15 percent or more on their car insurance, but that little duck sure seemed to be a good omen for the Cubs tonight. Have I mentioned how good it felt to see the tables turned on the Cardinals? Oh well, I don’t think you mind hearing it more than once.
Now it’s time to give St. Louis the bird in Game 4.