On an evening that seemed like the “same old night” at Wrigley, the Cubs had a breakthrough. After getting dominated for 8 straight innings by Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, the Cubs took three weeks worth of frustration out on Cardinals closer Jason Motte. A combination of outstanding at bats, and a clutch base hit led to the Cubs first walk off win of the season. Full recap and highlights after the jump.
The Cubs came out of the gates fast on Monday night against Jaime Garcia. After a one out single by Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro followed with another base hit moving Barney to third. Alfonso Soriano followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in Barney to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. To see Castro in the lineup and doing what he normally does is a big relief for fans and the team as Castro said “it felt like I broke my arm” when he was hit by a pitch a day earlier. Trailing by one in the fourth, the Cardinals put together a rally against Cubs starter Matt Garza. After a lead-off single from Skip Schumacher, Matt Holliday lined a double to left, and the Cardinals were in business with runners at 2nd and 3rd and no outs. Carlos Beltran was able to drive in Schumacher with a ground out to Barney to tie the game at one. After David Freese was hit by a pitch Yadier Molina put the Cardinals up 2-1 with a sacrifice fly to Reed Johnson in center. Matt Garza was able to wiggle off the hook in the fourth as he walked the next two batters to load the bases before getting Jaime Garcia to fly out to right.
Jaime Garcia was lights out. He made it thru 7 and 2/3rds innings while only throwing 86 pitches, and he left in the 8th inning in line for the win. The Cubs would have something to say about that in the 9th inning however. Cardinals closer Jason Motte took over in the ninth inning and promptly retired Alfonso Soriano on strikes for the first out. Bryan LaHair then followed with the best at bat by a Cubs hitter all year. LaHair fouled off pitch after pitch, all fastballs that seemed to increase in speed the deeper the at bat went. As the 12th pitch of the at bat sailed outside for a walk, the Cubs knew they were poised for a rally. Motte, who is usually toweling off after a successful save by now had to go back to work against Soto, he walked him, on four pitches. Cubs surprise rookie Steve Clevenger was next and while he was retired on a ground ball it was huge that he put the ball in play as it allowed Soto and LaHair to each advance a base to put the tying and winning run in scoring position. Joe Mather, a former Cardinal followed with a ringing single to center scoring LaHair, and Soto to give the Cubs their first victory of the year in which they were trailing after five innings. “I have a lot of good friends over there,” Mather said of the Cardinals. “It does feel good. When it comes down to it, we won a big league game and the self satisfaction is secondary. The win is first, but it felt good to do it against those guys.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Born on Third’s Thoughts:
Not going to lie, wasn’t expecting much from the Cubs in the ninth inning after only seeing 85 pitches in 8 innings. But Bryan LaHair came up huge. I know Mather had the big hit, and Soto took a big walk, but the hero this night was Bryan LaHair. Just an awesome job from LaHair, who after being carved up by Motte last week put in some extra time scouting him and it paid off. I’m hoping this was the break the Cubs needed to get on a roll. So many times this year it looked like they were poised for a rally only to strike out or ground into a double play, maybe now that they know they can actually win a game in the late innings and that should give them a ton of confidence moving forward. Matt Garza battled tonight, and pitched well when it looked like he wasn’t going to get through five innings, it was a big lift for the staff.
Thanks for reading,