The Cubs’ series against the Cardinals got off to a really bizarre start on Thursday night. An injury and a bean-ball in the 1st inning threw the game into chaos, with St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas getting ejected after three batters. Chicago took full advantage, piling up runs in a big win to get back to the .500 mark.
After Mikolas retired the first two batters of the opening frame, Ian Happ came up to bat and accidentally hit catcher and former teammate Willson Contreras in the head with his backswing. Contreras was bleeding from a cut on the side of his head and was forced to come out of the game. Happ, clearly concerned, gave the Cardinals backstop a hug as he came off the field.
When play resumed, Mikolas inexplicably threw a pitch high and tight to the Cubs left fielder. The St. Louis righty then eliminated all doubt about his intent by drilling Happ on the next pitch and was ejected after the umpires discussed the play.
Long reliever Dakota Hudson came on and allowed a single and a walk to load the bases for Dansby Swanson, who drew a walk to force in the first score of the game. Christopher Morel then smoked a ground-rule double into the left-field corner to put the road team ahead 3-0.
That's what we call a hot start.🔥 pic.twitter.com/eWLipGUYfR
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 28, 2023
Yan Gomes singled home another run in the 3rd and Miles Mastrobuoni followed with an infield hit to make it a 5-0 advantage. A Seiya Suzuki groundout brought home another in the 4th inning. Cubs starter Justin Steele made his only big mistake in the bottom of the frame, allowing a solo home run to replacement catcher Andrew Knizner.
Mike Tauchman got that tally back with a solo shot off left-hander Andrew Suárez in the 6th. Gomes doubled home a pair in the 7th and the rout was really on. Knizner crushed his second homer to Big Mac Land against Anthony Kay in the 8th to make it a little more competitive, but the North Siders increased their winning streak to six in the 10-3 triumph. (Box score)
It goes without saying Mikolas getting tossed from the game had a huge impact on the outcome. The Cardinals were forced to rely on their highly suspect bullpen for more than eight innings and the results were predictably bad. He intentionally threw at Happ, apparently as an old-school way to prove a point about the backswing, it’s just dumb that he tanked his own team in the process.
Why the Cubs Won
They jumped all over the Cardinals bullpen and their starter was able to hold up in the intense heat to give them a quality start.
Stats That Matter
- Steele had to work hard at times but was more than good enough to win: 6 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 4 K, and 3 BB.
- Another big day for Morel with three well-struck hits and a walk.
- Gomes has been very solid in 2023 and continued that with two hits and three RBI on Wednesday.
- Cody Bellinger had three singles and displayed tremendous defense to start a double play on a ground ball smash to first base.
Gold Glover ➡️ Gold Glover pic.twitter.com/3Y0Upn0sJk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 28, 2023
It would’ve been hard to believe two weeks ago that the Cubs would get back to .500 before August, but here they are. The lineup is finally starting to produce like Jed Hoyer and company hoped it would. A trade for one more good hitter, preferably a corner infielder, could make the offense really hard to stop.
The Cubs look to keep the good times rolling Friday night at 7:15pm CT. Chicago has yet to name a starter, saying only that it’ll be a righty, and St. Louis is going with Jordan Montgomery unless he gets traded. The game is available on Marquee and 670 The Score.