Normally I write something before the winning probability chart, but seriously the chart tells the story of the game completely accurately. The Cubs were behind the eight ball early when Matt Carpenter blasted another leadoff home run. It was sixth of the season which set a new Cardinals record, and that was the very beginning of his afternoon. Jon Lester was not sharp, but managed to avoid further damage in the second inning. Cardinals pitcher and nineteenth pugilist Jack Flaherty hit Anthony Rizzo to led off the bottom half of the frame. Kris Bryant hit the ball hard to third baseman Jedd Gyorko, who unfortunately they weren't all out of as he started the 5-4-3 double play. Kris Bryant hitting into a double play is like breaking a mirror or maybe Jon Lester was a victim of the regression monster. Or perhaps it was Jon Lester's annual clunker right before or after the All Star Game. Either way the game was effectively lost in the next inning.
The bester seller at the Gyork store drew a leadoff walk, and Kolten Wong sacrificed Gyorko into scoring position for the first out. Dexter Fowler betrayed us and slashed a run scoring double. Tommy Pham rolled a groundball single into left to extend the Cardinals lead to 3-0. Flaherty sacrificed Pham for the second out. Matt Carpenter then hit his second home run of the game. Lester walked Yadier Molina just to be frustrating. Peter DeJong received the largest contract ever offered to a create-a-player. He singled into left to keep the line moving. Marcell Ozuna walked before Gyorko popped out to end the inning with a five run cushion.
Flaherty faltered for the first time in the second inning. Willson Contreras blasted a one out solo shot. Albert Almora Jr. singled after Kyle Schwarber struck out for the second out. The rally stalled with an easy fly ball out from Addison Russell. Kolten Wong doubled to start the third, but Lester stranded him there. I foolishly thought about saying out loud that Lester was poised to settle in for a gutty five innings. I was already starting to prewrite in my head some flowery prose to describe the ways of a wiley veteran protecting his team ahead of a day-night doubleheader.
Flaherty wobbled in the third inning. After Lester struck out to start the inning, Rizzo drew a walk. Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch and Jason Heyward drew a walk to load the bases with one out. Javier Báez came to the plate anxious with a chance to tie the game with one swing. Looking at the score you forget that the Cubs did have a chance to truly swing the game. Báez swung at pitches out of the zone to end up striking out for the critical second out. Willson Contreras did the same to end the inning with the Cardinals with a 5-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, Carpenter lead off with another extra base hit. This one stayed in the ballpark and he had to settle for a double. Molina drew another frustrating walk because it meant seeing him on the screen for longer. DeJong walked and walking the create-a-player was the final straw for Maddon. He had seen enough and so he order the Bass-o-matic '76 for his second appearance off the DL. The purchase was inauspicious as Ozuna hit a groundball single to drive in one run. Bass walked Gyorko and Wong to drive in a pair the easy way. Hard throwing James Norwood was saved from a trip back to Iowa for a few days with Brandon Morrow's trip to the DL. A Dexter Fowler sacrifice fly drove in the Cards ninth run. Almora airmailed a throw to the plate that had no chance of getting the runner. It allowed both runners to advance ninety feet, and that became meaningful when Tommy Pham hit a groundball single up the middle. The game stood at an 11-1 margin in favor of the rivals. Flaherty struck out for the second out of the inning, but Matt Carpenter's second double of the inning gave the Cardinals a 13-1 lead.
Jack Flaherty kept the Cubs off the board as the two hours it took to get through the first three and half innings settled into the brisk pace of the modern game. James Norwood provided the Cubs second clean inning of their day. Brian Duensing struggled when called upon in the sixth inning. Duensing got two flyball outs around a Dexter Fowler single, but he walked the Cardinals starter. That brought Matt Carpenter up to the plate. He hit a fly ball that just kept drifting until it plopped into the right field basket. Tommy La Stella began the parade of position player pitchers in the final 3 and a third innings. Molina put a charge into the ball but Almora made a nice catch falling into the wall.
Luke Gregerson pitched the bottom of the sixth inning. Schwarber hit a one out single, and then a Gyork store error allowed both runners to reach safely. Russell hit a line drive single to load the bases with one out bringing relief pitcher Tommy La Stella to the plate. His groundball to second was turned into an inning ending double play. La Stella's pitching didn't fare much better as Greg Garcia hit a solo shot to start the inning. It seemed like the exclamation on the victory for the Cardinals at 16-1, but there was a little fight left in both sides.
Brett Cecil was the next Cardinals pitcher, and Victor Caratini struck out to start the inning. Kris Bryant hit a solid home run into the left field stands. It felt good to watch the Cubs sparkling number two hitter touch 'em all. Ian Happ walked to continue the rally. Báez singled and Contreras walked to load the bases. Kyle Schwarber singled to drive in a pair, and that would be it for the Cubs offense in the seventh. 16-4 didn't feel great, but it was a touch better than 16-1.
Victory Carrot was the next Cubs pitcher. Pham singled, but Caratini managed two groundball outs on his 60 mph express. The fun ended when Yairo Munoz hit the Cardinals fifth home run of the game. Matt Carpenter had three of those home runs before the sixth inning. He was pulled to give Molina a break at first base for the rest of the game. Now third baseman Tommy La Stella doubled to start the eighth inning. A two out single from Ian Happ brought the score to its final 18-5 tally. Ian Happ begged to pitch the ninth apparently and threw the Cubs third zero on the board.
Matt Carpenter set a Cardinals record with the number of total bases and was close to the National League record. He did not face a pitcher after the fifth inning and had just five plate appearances. Cubs pitchers threw 5.2 innings. Their ERA in those frames was 23.82. Cubs position players threw 3.1 innings with a 8.10 ERA.
After Matt Carpenter had his fifth extra base hit in five plate appearances.