This is how it begins, not with a bang but a whimper that grows into a roar before devolving into something that sounds strangely like a fart. Smells about the same too. The Cubs were thoroughly baffled by Carlos Martinez and threatened only once against him as they opened their World Series defense.
There’s only so much you can do against an ace when he’s on his game and, though the Cubs certainly did him some favors, Carlos Martinez was money. With a fastball sitting in the mid-90’s and touching the upper end of double digits, the Cardinals’ starter looked unbeatable.
That stood in stark contrast to his only relief, Seung Hwan Oh, who hit a couple batters and allowed a couple hits as the visitors tied the game in the 9th inning. Down 0-3 heading into their last at-bat, the Cubs put two runners on thanks in part to a generous scoring decision that gave Jason Heyward a single on a bleeder that Matt Carpenter misplayed.
Whatever the official box score says, the fact of the matter is that there were two men on for Willson Contreras, who had done little of consequence to that point. Until, that is, Stone Buddha threw a cement mixer that the young catcher jackhammered deep into the rainy night to tie the game. And set the stage for Randal Grichuk.
There something so poetically unjust about having a guy with one L too few wipe away the accomplishments of a guy with one too many, but them’s the breaks. Randal Freaking Grichuk, man, it had to be him.
On to pitch the bottom of the 9th, Mike Montgomery got Matt Carpenter to fly out before giving up a long double to Jose Martinez that nearly ended the game. After the first no-pitch intentional walk of the season, or the first I’ve seen, Montgomery struck Stephen Piscotty out looking and walked Kolten Wong to bring Randal Freaking Grichuck to the plate.
And Randal Freaking Grichuk did what Randal Freaking Grichuk does, which is to vex and gall Cubdom. Because it was of the walk-off variety, his hit counted only as a single and scored as many runs, though it would have been a bases-clearing double otherwise.
Stats that matter
- Kyle Schwarber was 2-for-3 with a double and had an excellent AB in which he got down 0-2 on Stone Buddha before working the count full and being hit by a pitch
- Contreras was 2-for-4 with that huge homer
- Kris Bryant was 0-for-4 with three K’s
The bottom line
I don’t know, the Cubs can only go 161-1 now? The offense clearly was clicking, baffled as the bats were by C-Mart’s dealing. In a way, though, it’s kinda nice to have a dose of reality right off the jump, to have that moment of elation with Contreras’s home run in the midst of what was otherwise a weak-sauce game.
In that glorious tradition of scheduling off-days after Opening Day, the Cubs will be dormant Monday before resuming their three-game set with the Cards on Tuesday. Jake Arrieta will be opposing Adam Wainwright with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 pm CT. The game will be televised on CSN Chicago+ and the radio call, as always, will be on 670 The Score.