The hype surrounding the first Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals game of the season was unreal. Monday night’s game marked the 2,364th time these two teams have met; Chicago leads 1,197-1,146.
The center of attention for tonight’s game was focused on Jason Heyward and John Lackey, both former Cardinal players, signed with the Cubs this past offseason. While the media spotlight was centered on Heyward, Lackey impressed the most in his first game back in St. Louis as he struck out 11 while giving up just four hits through seven innings of flawless pitching to help the Cubs beat the Cardinals by a score of 5-0.
The Cubs got off to a great start early on as Dexter Fowler led the game off with a double; Heyward followed and was booed at the plate. Heyward’s first at bat back in Busch Stadium was nothing bud a dud as he was sent back to the dugout. Heyward ended up impressing the rest of the night on the defensive side as he made a few sliding web gem catches, both grabs were treated with a 'warm' response from the St. Louis fans.
"You hear it. It’s fun. They don’t boo too often. It must be someone important or someone doing something worth booing," said Heyward after the game; the former red bird finished the night 0-4.
Cubs offense explodes late
Cardinals starting pitcher Mike Leake, who is filling the void left by Lackey in St. Louis rotation, kept the game close all the way up until the sixth inning. Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler had a monster solo shot in the top of the sixth to give Chicago the 2-0 lead, from that point on Joe Maddon and his team never looked back.
The Cubs had a three run seventh inning and an Aledmys Diaz error gave the Cubs a comfortable four run lead heading into the eighth. Leake, who remains winless in 2016, pitched seven innings giving up 6 hits and 4 runs (3 of them earned) while striking out 6.
The pivotal moment of the game was without question the solo shot by Fowler; last season, in April, he only had one homerun the entire month. This season the Cubs centerfielder has three and we're still in the month of April. In 2015 Fowler ended the year with 17 homers, right now the Cubs leadoff man is on track to surpass that by a long shot.
St. Louis' defensive woes
The Cardinals defensive continues to struggle this season: short stop Aledmys Diaz's error in the seventh inning was the 14th committed by the Cardinals this season. The 14 errors rank first in MLB; thirteen of the errors have been committed by infielders which include four by Aledmys Diaz himself. Not only was Diaz unable to field Jorge Solers hard hit ground ball he wound up over throwing the ball intended for first baseman Brandon Moss, Kris Bryant advanced from third to home on the wild throw giving Chicago a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh.
The win against St. Louis marks the 1,198 victory for the Cubs against the NL Central foe. The Cubs look to go back-to-back tomorrow night as Chicago’s Jason Hammel squares off against St Louis's Jaime Garcia, first pitch scheduled for 7:15.