If you’re the type who finds pitchers’ duels boring, Friday night’s series opener in St. Louis probably wasn’t for you, as Yu Darvish and Miles Mikolas were both on top of their respective games After walking back-to-back batters to start the game, Darvish settled into a dominant groove, striking out six batters while giving up one run on three hits over six innings. That’s good news for fans who have been living and dying with his every start like he’s 2006 Rex Grossman.
Hitters on both sides didn’t fare much better against the opposing team’s relief corps and the game headed into the 10th inning tied 1-1. The Cardinals finally punched through in the bottom of the 10th when Matt Carpenter delivered a walk-off single.
Both teams had chances to put runs on the board earlier in the game, but each struggled to produce with runners in scoring position. The Cubs loaded the bases in the 1st inning, but Addison Russell lined out to end the threat. Dexter Fowler’s baserunning gaffe in the 5th inning quelled with was shaping up to be a scoring opportunity for St. Louis.
Why the Cubs Lost
The Cubs went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
Things began to unravel after a questionable non-strike call went against Dillon Maples, resulting in a walk to Harrison Bader in the bottom of the 10th inning. Maples walked the next batter on four pitches to load the bases with one out. That prompted Joe Maddon to bring in Steve Cishek to face Carpenter, who delivered the game-winning hit for the Cardinals.
Stats That Matter
- This was Darvish’s third consecutive start of at least six innings.
- Fireballing reliever Jordan Hicks threw 35 pitches in two innings of relief for St. Louis, marking the second consecutive day in which he appeared. That could take him out of the mix for at least Saturday’s game.
- A thumb injury forced the Cardinals to place veteran catcher Yadier Molina on the 10-day injured list prior to Friday’s game. That means the Cubs will likely get a look at at top catching prospect Andrew Knizner during the series, who some believe is Molina’s heir apparent.
The Cubs will look to regroup Saturday after a disappointed loss in the series opener. Thanks to a Brewers loss Friday night, the Cubs maintain a half game lead atop the NL Central heading into Saturday’s action.
The middle game of the three-game series is set for Saturday at 6:15pm CT as the Cubs send José Quintana to the mound to take on right-hander Jack Flaherty. The game will be broadcast on FOX and 670 The Score will have the radio feed.