The Chicago Cubs hosted the St. Louis Cardinals for their first series of the 2019 season this weekend. The Cubs entered the series with a record of 16-12, looking for a possible sweep in order to take over sole possession of first place from their arch-rival Redbirds, and the team delivered in magnificent fashion. Sunday’s victory was the Cubs’ seventh straight win, giving the team a record of 19-12, a long way from their 2-7 road start to open the 2019 campaign.
Friday, May 3
Cubs 4, Cardinals 0
W: Hendricks (2-4)
L: Flaherty (3-2)
Players of the Game: Kyle Hendricks (4-hit CGSO, 2 SO, 0 BB); Anthony Rizzo (3-3, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR)
Hendricks came into the game with an inconsistent track record in 2019 but showed doubters why he was one of the top pitchers in MLB during the Cubs’ championship season, throwing an 81-pitch “Maddux” complete game shutout (under 100 pitches needed), silencing the Cards’ big bats by inducing weak contact from aggressive Redbird hitters and relying on the Northsiders’ defense to make plays. INF Anthony Rizzo provided the big blow with a 3-run dong in the 3rd inning driving in INF Daniel Descalso and INF Kris Bryant, followed up with an RBI single by INF Javier Báez to score Bryant in the bottom of the 7th.
Saturday, May 4
Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
W: Kintzler (1-0)
L: Brebbia (1-1)
S: Strop (4)
Players of the Game: Taylor Davis (1-3, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 HR – grand slam); Kyle Ryan (1.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H); Javier Báez (2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR)
Unlike Friday’s matchup, this game was a typical rivalry roller-coaster ride from start to finish. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead in the 1st inning thanks to a Bryant RBI single scoring Descalso. Cardinals OF José Martínez would tie the game in the 2nd inning on a home run to center field off SP Yu Darvish. In the top of the 3rd, the Cardinals took the lead on a Matt Carpenter double scoring St. Louis SP Michael Wacha. In the 4th inning, Wacha struck again with a 2-run single to left field to drive in Martínez and former Cubs OF Dexter Fowler. Carpenter would deal additional damage with an RBI single scoring INF Kolten Wong, giving St. Louis a 5-1 lead.
But the Cubs would come back in a big way in the bottom of the inning after the bases were loaded following an intentional walk to OF Kyle Schwarber, which brought backup catcher Taylor Davis, tapped to receive Darvish, to the plate. Davis hit his first major-league home run, a game-tying grand slam to left center field.
No more runs would be scored until the bottom of the 8th inning, not for lack of trying by the Cardinals, who loaded the bases in the top of the 5th inning after RP Allen Webster, who had replaced Darvish following free passes issued to INF Paul DeJong and OF Marcell Ozuna, hit C Yadier Molina with a pitch. Cubs manager Joe Maddon made a call to the pen for RP Kyle Ryan with one out in the inning. Ryan was able to successfully navigate out of the jam with no damage by inducing a forceout of DeJong at the plate and a groundout by Wong to end the inning. In the top of the 7th, RP Steve Cishek battled wildness, walking Fowler following a leadoff single by Molina and then hitting Wong to load the bases with two outs, but induced a flyout by pinch hitter Matt Wieters to end the Cardinals’ turn at bat.
Cubs star Javier Báez led off the bottom of the 8th inning. During his at-bat, El Mago hit a fly ball that dropped into foul territory very close to the line after Wong failed to make the catch. A replay review confirmed the call as a foul ball, continuing the appearance. Báez went on to hit an oppo taco to right-center field to give the Cubs a one-run advantage heading to the 9th inning. RP Pedro Strop came on to nail down the save for the Northsiders. Of course, this was a Cubs-Cardinals series, so there was some additional drama in the save situation after Martínez was refused a request for time on the first pitch of his at-bat versus Strop. Martínez and Molina, who was on deck, held up the game for several minutes to argue the decision with the ump along with Cards manager Mike Shildt. Martínez eventually struck out to make the first out of the inning, and Strop went on to retire the next two batters to secure the Cubs’ series victory.
Sunday, May 5
Cubs 13, Cardinals 5
W: Quintana (4-1)
L: Wainwright (3-3)
Players of the Game: Kris Bryant (2-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HR – grand slam); Willson Contreras (2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HR)
The Cubs came out swinging behind another quality start from Quintana, who worked 6.0 IP, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits with 2 BB and 2 SO, getting started on C Willson Contreras’s solo shot in the bottom of the 2nd. In the bottom of the 5th, the Cubs increased their lead on an RBI triple by OF Jason Heyward to score Contreras as well as a sacrifice fly by INF David Bote that brought in Heyward.
In the top of the 6th, the Cards would hit back, scoring two runs on a double by Molina that appeared ticketed for the bleachers. However, it hit off the wall to score only DeJong and Ozuna. The Cubs responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run double by Rizzo to drive in OF Ben Zobrist and INF Kris Bryant, followed by an RBI single by Contreras to score Báez.
The hits kept coming in the bottom of the 7th, with Ben Zobrist singling to bring in OF Albert Almora Jr., and the bottom of the 8th, when the Cubs scored six runs on Bote’s RBI double driving in Báez, followed by an Almora double to bring in Bote and a grand slam by Bryant to silence the doubters on US national television speculating about whether his power would return after the shoulder injury he suffered in 2018. Almora, pinch hitter Mark Zagunis and Zobrist all scored on Bryant’s salami.
In the top of the 9th, last weekend’s Cubs hero Tyler Chatwood took the mound to finish out the game with a massive 13-2 lead. Pitching to contact did not produce ideal results for Chatwood, as he allowed a 2-run homer to DeJong with Carpenter along for the ride followed up with a solo blast by Ozuna, but he was able to induce a groundout by Martínez to retire the side, finalizing a Cubs sweep.
The Cubs will look for their eighth consecutive victory tonight against the Miami Marlins starting at 8:05 PM ET. Sandy Alcántara (1-3, 4.86 ERA) will face Cubs veteran Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.19 ERA). Support the site by buying your tickets from SeatGeek!
I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).