The Cubs beat the Cardinals tonight 5-0 behind a dominating pitching performance by John Lackey. It was a pitcher’s duel until the seventh inning when the Cubs opened it up and scored three runs in quick order. It almost felt like they just snuck up on Leake and caught him by surprise with back-to-back singles. The next thing you know the Cardinals commit a throwing error allowing one run to score with two left on base. One Russell sacrifice and a Lackey single later and the Cubs have a 4-0 lead (Box Score).
John Lackey was finally the pitcher we’ve all been hearing about, except better. He showed his ability to pitch under pressure while dominating his former team. His change-up tonight was a huge weapon that he used time and again to take advantage of batters who had two strikes against them. He struck out eleven batters, allowed four hits and issued one walk. He didn’t allow any Cardinals to get in scoring position until the fifth inning and then he promptly struck out two batters in a row to end the inning. Dominant.
Cubs’ starting pitching has begun the season with thirteen straight outings of 6+ innings. The bullpen has, for the most part, taken care of the rest. That includes tonight. Wood, Strop and Cahill combined to close out the final two innings giving up only one hit, one walk and striking out two.
Leake was dominant early but Dexter Fowler caught up with him on a line drive home run to center field in the sixth inning. Up to that point in the game the Cubs had only two hits off Leake. Suddenly they had three hits and a one run lead. The following inning, after the Cubs put up three more, there was no looking back. The Cubs coast the rest of the way to take game one from the Cardinals.
The Cubs play St. Louis again tomorrow at 7:15 CDT. Jason Hammel will try his hand at conquering the Cardinals while going for his second win of the year.