There was no doubt prior to first pitch that John Lackey was the correct choice to start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Cardinals. Seven and one-third innings later, the justified move was official. Lackey gave up just two hits, struck out five, walked one and allowed no one to score.
The performance from the veteran wasn’t “crafty” as we often hear about older pitchers. Lackey’s pitching was dominant. While he certainly wants to get paid next season, his desire now to win another ring could will be one of the most valuable things for to St. Louis in their quest for a thirteenth World Series Championship.
It took six innings for the Cubs to muster a hit off Lackey, a legit single up the middle by Addison Russel. The second hit was a bunt by Kyle Schwarber that took advantage of a shift by the Cardinals.
The only drama for Lackey came when Mike Matheny made his way to the mound with one out in the eighth inning to take the ball from the starter. I questioned this move, but not as much as Lackey. He wouldn’t truthfully address it after the game, but the veteran had no desire to cede the game to the bullpen.
Kevin Siegrist was called to finish the inning, and he did with two swinging strikeouts. The move worked for Matheny, but I think it was a huge gamble.
With St. Louis picking up a run in the first inning on a Holliday single to center that scored a hustling Steven Piscotty from first base, I was hoping the offense would catch fire. Instead, it fell into a slump against John Lester for the next six innings.
Then, Tommy Pham pinch hit in Lackey’s spot and hit a BOMB that landed 431 feet in the left field seats. A walk to Matt Carpenter followed, and the second surprise of the night was unleashed. Stephen Piscotty lit up Pedro Strop, who replaced Lester. The rookie hit a 406 foot home run to send the Cardinals to the ninth inning with a 4-0 lead.
A four run lead gave me comfort for what I anticipated to be a wild, and hopefully, final inning. Sure enough, Trevor Rosenthal came into the game and wasn’t mostly rosey – He was all rosey. The closer struck out his first batter looking, walked the next, struck out his second batter looking then gave up a single.
Two on. Two out. Khris Bryant stood at the plate. The rookie took two balls, collected two strikes then watched strike three.
That is Trevor Rosenthal. It’s going to be ridiculous, when the Cardinals lead a game by one run.
Joe Madden was not happy with the strike zone. The plate was a little large, but Lester was given the same benefit. That was evidenced by his solid performance after giving up one run in the first. The strike zone didn’t lose the game for the Cubs.
They had chances, but their hard hit balls were gobbled up by the Cardinals and the cool October air. Dexter Fowler’s deep ball to right field in the sixth inning is likely a home run in August.
Check The Ball
I was surprised Madden asked the umpire to check the baseball in Lackey’s hand in the seventh inning. Is that going to be another excuse should the Cubs lose?
After all, the Cardinals are #Vigilantes.
Around The Horn
- I didn’t like Matheny challenging Holliday’s out. Even with two replays, instead of one that is given in the regular season, I thought it would be wasted. However after watching the replay multiple times, it was closer than I thought. But, Holliday was out.
- I certainly didn’t agree with Lackey being pulled from the game.
- Yadier Molina isn’t even close to having a healthy thumb.
- 36 of 40 teams that won Game 1 of the NLDS have advanced to the NLCS (MLB Stat).
- St. Louis is 8-0 in the NLDS, when they’ve won the first game (MLB Stat).
- When Chicago loses Game 1, they are 0-11 in any postseason series (MLB Stat).