A Jake Arrieta start is rarely this stressful, but there many odd twists and turns this afternoon. The Cubs extended their lead over the third place Cardinals at the end of the day, but not without adding a few gray hairs to their fans.
Jake Arrieta, with a little assistance from the home plate umpire, was not the demigod of pitching we’ve come to expect every fifth day. The Cubs went quietly in the top half of the inning, but Kolten Wong lead off the bottom half with a single. Alemdys Diaz switched spots with Wong on a fielder’s choice. Matt Holliday advanced Diaz to second on a ground out, and Stephen Piscotty gave the Cards in earlier 1-0 lead with another single.
The Cardinals lead was short lived as the Cubs scored a touchdown in the second inning against Carlos Martinez. Ben Zobrist singled to lead off the inning because Ben Zobrist is unstoppable right now. Tommy La Stella walked to move Zobrist into scoring position, and Addison Russell‘s one out single would tie the game. Jake Arrieta struck out to give Martinez a chance to escape with minimal damage, but Dexter Fowler singled to give the Cubs the lead. Jason Heyward hit a double down the first base line to clear the bases, and another Ben Zobrist single would make it an even 6 runs in the second inning.
The Cardinals did not quit despite the daunting task of coming back from a 6-1 deficit against Jake Arrieta. Randall Grichuk hit a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning. The Cardinals would get Jake Arrieta again in the fourth inning. Stephen Piscotty walked and Matt Adams doubled him home. Another name we are tired of hearing, Randall Grichuk, drove in Adams making it a 6-4 ballgame. Arrieta finished a difficult fifth inning maintaining the 6-4 score. Seung Hwan Oh pitched the sixth inning for the Cardinals. Addison Russell led off with a single. Matt Szczur dropped a perfect two strike bunt to reach first, but Dexter Fowler had a less than perfect bunt popping up for an easy Yadier Molina catch. Jason Heyward struck out swinging, and the promising frame looked like a wasted chance. Kris Bryant, however, defeated the Final Boss with a 3 run blast to give the Cubs a commanding 9-4 lead.
The game was not over despite the Cubs vanquishing the Final Boss for some reason. Adam Warren pitched the bottom half of the sixth inning, and Ruben Tejada hit a solid single up the middle. Warren was able to get Jeremy Hazelbaker and Kolten Wong, but Tommy La Stella’s second error of the game kept the inning alive for Matt Holiday. A slide that caught too much of the plate was hit over the fence as the Cardinals answered with their own field goal. The Cubs failed to tack on any additional runs in this one, but the Cardinals were not done. Travis Wood was called onto face Matt Adams to start the seventh inning. Matt Adams continued to torment the Cubs with a solo shot to cut the Cubs lead to just one. Justin Grimm retired the three batters he faced.
Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon had a rare slim lead to protect in this one. Pedro Strop rid himself of some more Busch Stadium demons working around a lead off walk, but the top of the ninth was not an easy outing for Rondon. Stephen Piscotty and Matt Adams hit back to back singles to start the inning. Yadier Molina attempted to sacrifice the pair into scoring position, but ended up striking out on a slider. Randall Grichuk also swung over the top of a low slider, and Jedd Gyorko hit a comebacker to the mound to end the game.
The Cubs win a series in what has felt like a very long time. It has not been that long, and beating the Cardinals goes a long ways toward erasing those feelings.
Jake Gets C.B.ed
It was not a strong start for Jake Arrieta, but the Cubs refuse to lose on Jake Day. I don’t like to talk about the umpires unless the calls are egregious, but it is hard not to give a little credit for this blip on home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor. The zone seemed tight for Jake for a lot of the game, and certainly played a role in the short outing. It may be bad form, but it is worth noting.
Speaking of Rough Days at the Office…
Bucknor was not the only one with a rough time on the field. Tommy La Stella draw a couple of walks, but he matched that with a pair of strike outs and errors. The sixth inning error was particularly costly. La Stella played back on the ground ball at third, and the bounce caught him square in the chest. La Stella does not have a great arm to begin with and so the play was done once the ball bounced away from him. That error was costly as Warren wasn’t able to pitch around it like Arrieta earlier.
Stephen Piscotty and Randall Grichuk continued to be pesky, but Matt Adams is so hot right now. Adams drawing a start in this game delivered many key hits, and was involved in half of the Cardinals runs in some form. I was relieved in some ways when Matt Adams only hit a single in the ninth inning. That is how much Adams torched the Cubs this series.
Cubs fans are not exactly known for their rational thinking, but the Cubs bullpen meltdowns did not help matters. Many Cubs fans were ready to play Homer Simpson with a number of Cubs players.
Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Ben Zobrist (3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI)
Ben Zobrist remains Hansel.
Second Star-Matt Adams (3-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI)
The Cardinals deserved a star for piling up 8 runs on a Jake day. I am just glad that I don’t have to praise Yadier Molina right now.
First Star-Kris Bryant (2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI)
Hit a game winning home run and you get named number 1 star. It is pretty simple.