The Chicago Cubs opened their 2021 season series against the St. Louis Cardinals with a three-game set in St. Louis. The series was tied at one game apiece heading into Sunday’s finale, a nailbiter aired on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. Fan scapegoat Zach Davies took the mound for the Northsiders. His opponent was beloved St. Louis lifer Adam Wainwright. Davies pitched just five innings, allowing no runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Wainwright threw an eight-inning gem, allowing no runs on one hit with one walk and seven strikeouts (box score).
The Cubs bullpen was able to hold down the home team, extending the game into extra innings. 2020 National League MVP vote recipient Ryan Tepera escaped a bases loaded jam in the 7th inning with a swinging strikeout of Nolan Arenado to end the inning.
Javier Báez pulled off another one of his magic tricks in the top of the 10th inning, skying a fly ball into the center field batter’s eye to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage. Craig Kimbrel, who had recorded the final out in the 9th, resumed pitching in the bottom of the 10th. Paul Goldschmidt started the inning on second base and advanced to third on a passed ball by Willson Contreras. The passed ball was a Kimbrel heater that struck the Cubs catcher flush on his left wrist thanks to a cross-up. Contreras would remain in the game to catch the rest of the inning.
Goldschmidt advanced to third base on the passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Arenado, cutting the deficit to one run. Yadier Molina stepped to the plate representing the tying run. He received a free pass from Kimbrel to the chagrin of Cubs fans everywhere, but Kimbrel struck out the next two Cards batters to end the game. The extra innings win secured a road series victory for the Northsiders, narrowing the gap between the Cubs and first place in the Central Division to two games.
While Contreras’s status for the next week will be questionable, Monday will be a welcome day off for the Cubs before heading to Pittsburgh to close out their current road trip. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face off against a Pirates pitcher TBD at 6:35 PM ET on Tuesday night.
Featured Image: Chicago Cubs logo at the team store on the Miracle Mile circa May 2018 by Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com.