CI Recap (4/4/17) – Cubs 2, Cardinals 1: Defense Key, Almora Makes Huge Play

After the hoopla of Opening Day, the Cubs entered the regular season grind on Tuesday night in St. Louis. The game featured an excellent pitching matchup of Jake Arrieta against Adam Wainwright.

Both hurlers traded zeros the first three innings. Arrieta looked particularly sharp, striking out 5 of the first 9 batters he faced.

The Cubs took their first lead of 2017 in the top of the 4th inning. Addison Russell doubled and Willson Contreras walked to put two men on for Jason Heyward, who fisted a single to left to score Russell.

Javy Baez then attempted a safety squeeze and Contreras scored on a nifty slide to increase the margin to 2-0.

Steven Piscotty scored what may have been the single most painful run in the history of baseball in the 5th to make it 2-1. First, he took an Arrieta fastball to the elbow to reach base. He then stole second and took Contreras’s throw off the funny bone in the same elbow.

Finally, Piscotty broke for home after Javy Baez bobbled a Kolten Wong dribbler to the right side. Baez threw home late and accidentally hit the Cardinals right fielder in the head. Piscotty left the game with a bruised forehead, but appeared okay otherwise.

Arrieta escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 6th inning and was done for the night. Koji Uehara entered the game in the 7th and appeared to give up a game-tying homer to Matt Adams. Albert Almora Jr. had other ideas. The Cubs centerfielder leaped and pulled the ball back to rob Adams and keep the Northsiders ahead.

Pedro Strop bounced back from his bad outing Sunday and pitched a clean 8th to hand it over to Wade Davis. The new closer entered in the 9th to earn his first career Cubs save. After a one-out walk added a little drama, a diving play by Baez secured a Chicago win.

Stats That Matter

  • Jake Arrieta had a nice debut: 6 IP, R, 0 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 2 BB. Arrieta was also very efficient Tuesday, which is a promising sign.
  • Matt Carpenter does not like facing his old TCU teammate. He is now a career 0-27 against Arrieta in his career, though he did single in the 2015 NLDS.
  • Albert Almora had a base hit, but his homer-saving catch won the game.

Bottom Line

The Cubs are not going 0-162 this season! Also, Jake Arrieta looked very good in his first start.

On Deck

The Cubs look to win the rubber game of the series Wednesday afternoon at Busch. John Lackey faces Lance Lynn, who’s coming back from missing a season after Tommy John surgery, at 12:45 CT. The game is on WGN and MLB Network for those outside of the Chicago area.

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