Before their first game back from the All-Star break, the Cubs announced that Brandon Morrow was returning to the 10 Day Disabled List. Which activated an obscure clause in his two-year deal making him the first player in Major League History to be contractually forbidden from wearing pants.
Purely for his health, the Cubs also announced that Brandon Morrow would immediately become the new Clark the Cub.
Naturally, the focus tonight would be on the bullpen…
What You Need to Know: And they were mostly good! Which they had to be as Kyle Hendricks again was denied tenure, allowing nine hits and three runs in only 4.2 innings and an ungodly 113 pitches. Once again, due to his inability to command the fastball, hitters mostly ignored The Professor’s changeup like it was a lecture in an 8:10 class.
Fortunately, the six relievers that followed proved up to the task and continued to bend but not break against the Cardinals lineup. Their biggest contribution to the game was making sure the St. Louis defense got back on the field as quickly as possible.
Because that was a complete and utter trashfire. Which is what you get when you construct a team to fit in with its home city.
The Cubs scored their first run only because Kris Bryant reached with two outs on a chopper to third base that squirted out of Jedd Gyorko’s doughy right hand when he tried to remove it from his glove. Their game-changing five-run fifth inning began with a nice play by Paul DeJong on a Victor Caratini bouncer up the middle, immediately negated by DeJong’s throw toward somewhere in the vicinity of the Cubby Bear.
That, combined with Tommy Pham’s lesser of two humiliating pickoffs against Cub pitching, made this the kind of game that caused Cardinal fans to look to the heavens and scream “What would Pepper Martin say if he saw this?!”
The answer, of course, can be found in Josh Hader’s Twitter.
Offensively, the game was driven by the top of the Cubs order, as Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant had two hits apiece. And then there was the number three hitter…
“You have to love Yadier Molina. Everything about him.”
–Matt Vasgersian, in the midst of scribbling “Get a brain Morans” on his scorecard
BP’s Definitive List of Most Beloved Molinas
This seems like a good time to leave this here…
Yadier Molina: 37.7 bWAR, 33.2 JAWS
Jason Heyward: 34.7 bWAR, 33.4 JAWS
Heyward continued his renaissance in a big way, driving in the first run of the game after the Gyorko error with a sterling at-bat against the Kenny Powers/Pascual Perez lovechild that was Carlos Martinez. Working the count to 2-2 and fouling off several low and inside offspeed pitches, Heyward waited until the tenth offering of the sequence to get a fastball on the outside corner and promptly lined an RBI single to left.
Then with the game tied 2-2 in the fifth, Heyward picked up Rizzo after a baserunning mistake failed to plate him on a Bryant single with a sharp ground ball past a diving (well, technically “falling”) Matt Carpenter for the go-ahead RBI. And for good measure, he opened the seventh inning with an 0-2 line single to center, immediately stole second without a throw, and scored on a Zobrist ground ball single through the middle as Kolten Wong and DeJong looked at each other with an expression that said “You take it!”
Hey, Sun-Times! How much is Heyward’s contract worth again? You haven’t mentioned it in a while. Everything OK?
Top Play (WPA): Happ’s home run on a 1-2 low fastball put the Cubs up 6-3 and, like anyone who just crossed the Illinois state line on I-55, they never looked back (+.174).
Bottom Play (WPA): The last batter Hendricks faced was Wong who grounded one up the middle with the bases loaded. Addison Russell made an acrobatic play that looked like he was ending a September game against the 2015 Cardinals but couldn’t get off a throw as one run scored to make it a 3-1 St. Louis lead (-.106).
Up Next: Game two of this five-game series is tomorrow afternoon as Jon Lester takes on Luke Flaherty.
Lead photo courtesy Matt Marton—USA Today Sports