The St. Louis Cardinals cooled down the excitement among Chicago Cubs fans on opening day, beating their NL Central rivals 3-0 to make it seem that despite the big talk and changes, nothing really changes.
Adam Wainwright allowed only five hits and struck out six batters in an excellent six-inning performance to kick off the new season, while Jon Lester, who signed a six-year, $155 million deal as the Cubs finally make a move that isn’t just about rebuilding but announcing their intentions to start winning and contending for stuff, struggled, not lasting a full five innings.
Lester gave up 8 hits in 4.1 innings, allowing all three runs and striking out six while walking two. Things settled down for the Cubs once their bullpen got involved, including an impressive performance for both Phil Coke and Pedro Strop, but their hitting was simply the opposite of clutch, ending up leaving 13 runners in scoring position all throughout the evening.
Jason Heyward kept getting hits (3-of-5) and allowed Matt Holiday to pick up a couple of RBIs by bringing in the right fielder, in the first and fifth inning. Matt Carpenter, the lead-off hitter, also got an RBI by driving in Kolten Wong in the third inning. The Cardinals didn’t do so well at the plate after Lester was removed from the field, but with Wainwright being almost unhittable and those coming up after him (Carlos Martinez, Jordan Walden and Trevor Rosenthal) not giving up a single hit, the Cubs had no business winning this game.
Rosenthal picked up the save and struck out all three batters in his closing inning. Wainwright, who has eight consecutive seasons of winning 11 games or more, managed to get out of quite a few difficult situations. The Cardinals are the epitome of consistency in Major League Baseball for over a decade, and although it’s just one game, it seems like old habits die hard.
The Wrigley Field renovation might look nice on the outside, but when it comes to going to the bathroom, something has to be done. Joe Maddon, the team’s new manager, can speak all day long about an electric atmosphere, but if the conditions under the bleachers and outside the reach of cameras is this disastrous, maybe someone made a wrong choice and decision.
Maddon was quite optimistic despite the loss. The pregame was wonderful. Everything was great. We just have to come through with a couple knocks now and then, but we will. I thought it was a really, really — for lack of a better term — a really good night. No one on the Cubs finished with multiple hits, and three players were struck out twice.
The series resumes on Tuesday (April 7) with Jake Arrieta pitching for the Cubs and Lance Lynn taking the mound for the Cardinals.