The magic that is the rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs continues tonight. Last night featured exciting things like the Cubs hitting two doubles and two home runs against Cards’ ace Adam Wainwright in the first inning (never mind the rest of the innings). Also featured was a double play by interference to end the game. Two years ago, I was begging for the Cubs to retaliate when Matt Holliday slid into Starlin Castro with his cleats high. That never happened, so I’m hoping that the Cubs will plant a fastball right in Shane Robinson’s hind end. That might even be more gratifying for me than a Cubs win tonight, though I do hope they win.
Pitching for the Cardinals tonight is Jake Westbrook. His last start was his first after returning from the disabled list with some back injury. He showed signs of rust in giving up five runs (three earned) on eight hits in five innings against the Marlins. The Cubs haven’t been the league’s most potent offense (.241/.299/.400), but the Marlins have a team slash line of .230/.286/.330 and managed to beat Westbrook, so there’s hope, right? Westbrook isn’t known for striking out batters (5.05 K/9), but struck out none in the five innings against Miami.
For the Cubs, we’ll see Edwin Jackson take the mound. He had one of his best starts of the year against the Mets last Friday, allowing only one run on five hits in six innings. He also struck out seven batters. Here’s an interesting look at some starting pitching stats from Carrie Muskat:
Cubs starting pitchers have 42 quality starts this season, tied with the Cardinals for fourth most in the NL. The Cubs also are 5-for-5 in quality starts on this road trip so far. In the 42 starts, the pitchers are 19-10 with 13 no decisions and a 2.01 ERA. The Cubs have a 24-18 record in those games.
I know quality starts aren’t the best stat, but it’s telling that the Cubs have just as many as the team with the best record in all of baseball. Bad defense, bad on-base skills and an unreliable bullpen have been the Cubs’ pathway to the crummy record they have. Consider this: the Cubs have a -13 run differential and are one game ahead of the Brewers, who have a -47 run differential. They have the same record as the Dodgers, who have a -51 run differential. Is it worse to be in a bunch of close games and lose or to just get blown out all the time? I probably would have a different answer if you asked me in two consecutive days, but for now, I’m happy to see the Cubs in close games.
Lineup after the jump.