The Cubs and Cardinals played a very tense, messy game on Friday afternoon and the outcome was very much in doubt until the final pitch. Chicago was able to cling to a one-run lead and hold off numerous scoring chances for St. Louis with a little help from the umpires.
Cubs starter Justin Steele found himself in a bases-loaded jam after three soft singles in the top of the 2nd inning. Andrew Knizner grounded out to third to bring home a run, but Steele got out of the jam without further damage.
Chicago did all their scoring in the bottom of the 3rd inning, beginning with the first career home run from Miles Mastrobuoni. Miguel Amaya singled and came in to score the go-ahead tally on a double off the bat of Mike Tauchman.
First career Major League homerun for Miles Mastrobuoni! pic.twitter.com/FdyNBwCvFP
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 21, 2023
Cody Bellinger finished the big inning with a long two-run homer to right field that put the Cubs ahead 4-1. Steele locked in at that point and pitched all the way into the 7th before coming out with a man on first and one out.
Julian Merryweather took over at that point and walked Paul Goldschmidt, then threw a wild pitch to move the runners to second and third with two outs. Nolan Arenado then punched a single back up the middle to score both men and reduce the deficit to 4-3.
The Cardinals had a golden opportunity to tie the score in the top of the 8th as Michael Fulmer and Mark Leiter Jr. combined to walk the bases loaded with one out. Leiter got a couple of very generous strike calls to avoid walking in a run and then got a huge double play from Alec Burleson to end the threat.
The Cards got another chance in the 9th inning after a Christopher Morel error at second base kept the game alive, but closer Adbert Alzolay got Tyler O’Neill to fly out stranding two and securing the win. (Box score)
Leiter’s 3-1 pitch to Burleson was at least 6 inches outside and was called a strike. The Cards would have tied the game had it been properly called, but instead the next pitch turned into a 6-4-3 double play. The St. Louis first baseman was understandably ejected for arguing after the inning.
Why the Cubs Won
They got a quality start from their ace and just enough power to hold off an intense comeback attempt. They also undoubtedly caught a massive break from a couple of bad calls.
Stats That Matter
- Very nice comeback after a bad outing for Steele: 6.1 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 9 K, and 1 BB. All the hits he allowed singles and none of them were hit very hard.
- Bellinger had three more hits with a double and a single in addition to his homer. I think they should re-sign him, but his value is skyrocketing.
- Mastrobuoni is really starting to figure it out at the plate and has seven hits his last three games.
The Cubs really tried hard to lose but they got some good luck in a close game for a change. This win doesn’t really inspire a ton of confidence going forward, although it certainly is better than a loss would have been. Whether he’s extended or traded, Bellinger benefit Chicago long-term in some fashion.
The third game of the series is Saturday at 1:20pm CT. The Cubs are opting for a bullpen game and the Cardinals are starting Miles Mikolas with a broadcast available on Marquee and 670 The Score.