By: Jim Tsapelas
The late, great, MLB pitcher and legend, Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you!” With the Cardinals second consecutive loss to the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates are four and one-half games behind the Redbirds and the Cubs are six and one-half games behind in the NL Central Division.
Having scrubbed the Cards on Monday nine to zip, the Cubs scored eight more runs on Tuesday to beat the Cardinals eight to five.
The Cubs jumped out to an early two to nothing lead in the first when Starlin Castro scored on Anthony Rizzo’s twenty-ninth home run of the season. The Cubs scored four more runs in the fourth; Javier Baez scored on a Jason Hammel single. Castro hit his seventh home run of the season; also scoring Hammel. Chicago added two more runs in the seventh, when Austin Jackson scored on Castro’s seventeenth double of the year. Castro scored on a single by Rizzo. With the score at the top of the seventh being Cubs eight-Cardinals nothing, it appeared the Cardinals were headed to another shutout loss.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals scored five runs, and made a late inning push to overcome the once insurmountable Cubs lead. Tony Cruz scored on a pinch-hit home run by the recently activated Randal Grichuk. Cruz was inserted into the game as a pinch-runner for Yadier Molina who had walked. It was Grichuk’s sixteenth home run and his first at-bat since going on the DL on August 16th; with a strained right elbow. For now, Grichuk is available for pinch-hitting and running but not for throwing. Mark Reynolds and Jon Jay scored on a single by Stephen Piscotty. In his second at-bat of the inning, Cruz singled, scoring Tommy Pham. Unfortunately, for the Cardinals, as the inning ended-so did the Cardinals’ rally.
In the home half of the ninth, Pham was called out on strikes to begin the inning. Matt Carpenter hit his thirty-fourth double of the season. With the double the faithful of Cardinal Nation held hope of redemption and of the exclamation and excitement of a walk off victory. Carpenter’s double was wasted as he was left stranded at second as Piscotty struck out and Jason Heyward grounded out to end the inning.
With Monday’s nine to nothing loss and Tuesday’s eight to five loss it is difficult to assess the benefit, value, or success of the extra days of rest afforded Monday’s starter Lance Lynn (11-9) or Tuesday’s starter Michael Wacha (15-5). Both hurlers exited their respective games early while being on the losing end of a large Cub lead. The true test shall be proven in their next individual pitching assignments as both pitchers should be pitching on their regular five days of rest.
On Tuesday Wacha threw four innings, allowed six hits, six earned runs, walked three, struck out two, and allowed two home runs. On Monday, Lynn pitched two and one-third innings and allowed six runs.
Chicago’s starter Jason Hammel (8-8) pitched six innings, allowed four hits, three earned runs, walked four, struck out six, and gave up a home run. Chicago’s Hector Rondon earned his twenty-seventh save.
In an afternoon game on Wednesday, the Cardinals hope to avoid a sweep by the Cubs. Chicago’s Jon Lester (9-10) meets St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez (13-7). Martinez shall be working with his usual five days of rest.
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