Cubs Record: 31-14 (1st in the NL Central, 5.5 games up)
W: Arrieta (5 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 4 K)
L: Martinez (5 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 7 K)
S: Rondon (1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K)
MVP: The sparkly man, Kris Bryant
Once again, the Cubs scored 6 runs in an inning against the Cardinals starter. This time it happened in the 2nd inning with the Cubs trailing 1-0. It seemed as though they were not happy with the Cardinals scoring a run in the 1st against Jake Arrieta, although I would argue that the real reason the Cubs put so many runs on the board that inning was that Carlos Martinez not pitching particularly well.
Ben Zobrist continues to be the hottest batter in the Cubs lineup, as he got on base 4 out of the 5 times he came to the plate. One of them was via a Kolten Wong fielding error, with the three others being due to a well placed ball in play. He drove in 2 runs and scored twice.
Kris Bryant sparkled at the plate, hitting a 3-run blast off of Seung Hwan Oh in the 6th inning to increase the Cubs’ run total to 9, which was just enough to secure the victory. He also got on base two other times, one via a walk and one via a single.
Jake Arrieta was not on his game today. He allowed runs in the 1st and 2nd inning of a game for the first time since May 29th of last year, a span of 33 starts. He also gave up more than 3 runs in a game for the first time in 30 starts. There were times where he missed his spots, and the Cardinals batters made him pay. Arrieta was human today, which is somewhat saddening but I’m not too down about it. It’s unrealistic to expect him to pitch lights-out every single time he takes the bump, although I’m sure there are some of you out there who would beg to differ.
Anthony Rizzo has been colder than the Fortress of Solitude when Superman’s not home, and that continued today. He did get on base once, but when he put balls in play they were weak. I hope he starts making good contact with balls in play, because if not then it could be a long season for him. As long as he keeps going deep into counts and drawing walks, I will not be concerned about his lack of hard contact on balls in play.
The strike zone was horrible today, and this is not just a Cubs fan complaining about how his team didn’t get certain calls in certain situations. When I say the zone was horrible, I’m referring to the consistency with which balls are called balls and strikes are called strikes. Today, it was almost impossible to know what was going to be what before the umpire made the call. Even looking at Pitch Trax it is difficult to determine what exactly constituted a strike and a ball. This seems to be a recurring theme with umpires these days.
The Cubs bullpen sure did make things interesting in this game, thanks to a couple of long bombs given up by Adam Warren (Matt Holiday three-run homer) and Travis Wood (Matt Adams solo shot). Pedro Strop came into the 8th with a one-run lead and promptly allowed Brandon Moss on base by walking him on four straight pitches, though he ended up getting out of the inning unscathed. Hector Rondon allowed the first two batters to reach, but struck out Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk, then induced a weak ground ball by Jedd Gyorko that Rondon fielded and threw to first for the final out. The bullpen looked shaky today, but fortunately Strop and Rondon are two of the best relievers in the game.
It was such an exciting finish, but I prefer that the Cubs beat the Cardinals into oblivion over winning a close game against the Red Birds every time.
The Cubs and Jon Lester (4-3, 2.60 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) head back to Wrigley Field to face off against the Philadelphia Phillies and their starter Adam Morgan (1-2, 5.61 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) on Friday, May 27th. First pitch will be at 1:20 central.