CHICAGO -- The Cardinals did not waste any time showing they're not ready for their season to end. Two batters into Tuesday's Game 4 of the National League Division Series vs. the Cubs, rookie Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run home run.
Cubs starter Jason Hammel began by allowing a leadoff single to Matt Carpenter. The next batter was Piscotty, who jumped on a first-pitch fastball and drove a homer to center field. According to Statcast™, it came off the bat at 109 mph and landed a projected 407 feet away. It was Piscotty's second postseason home run and it extended the new record of 13 homers by a rookie during the postseason.
Star backstop, who aggravated thumb injury Monday, available to catch if absolutely necessary
By Jenifer Langosch and Mark Sheldon
MLB.com |@m_sheldon |
CHICAGO -- Unable to show enough strength with his left thumb to grip a bat -- or much of anything, for that matter -- Yadier Molina was scratched from the Cardinals' National League Division Series Game 4 lineup on Tuesday. With the Cards down 2-1 in the series and facing elimination against the Cubs, Tony Cruz drew his second career postseason start.
Cruz started Game 5 of the NL Championship Series in 2014 after Molina suffered an oblique injury. The backup catcher reached base three times in that game.
CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta didn't have his Superman stuff, so the Cubs instead put on a power show Monday night as rookies Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber hit half of Chicago's six home runs to post an 8-6 victory over the Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. Chicago now has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, and the club can advance to the NL Championship Series with a win on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS) at Wrigley Field.
"[Manager] Joe [Maddon] mentioned we have to show up Tuesday," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "We took care of Monday. We'll show up Tuesday, and bring energy and see what we do. We'll be ready to go."
CHICAGO -- It was, in many ways, a near best-case scenario for the Cardinals, watching Jake Arrieta walk off the mound with an out still left to get in the sixth and having already given up as many earned runs (four) as he had allowed in his previous 13 starts combined. St. Louis, trailing by one at the time, salivated over an opportunity to finish off a comeback against what they thought could be a porous 'pen.
But a favorable outcome wouldn't just hinge on hitting the recently unhittable Cubs ace. It required the Cardinals' pitching staff, the best in the Majors this season, to step up. And that is where the Cards' best-laid plans unraveled. Despite making Arrieta look human again, the Cardinals' pitching couldn't keep pace, the result of which was an 8-6 loss in Game 3 of the National League Division Series that leaves the Cards needing to win a pair of elimination games to keep their season alive.
CHICAGO -- Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha labored throughout his start in Monday's Game 3 vs. the Cubs in the National League Division Series. By the fifth inning, it was clear that Wacha's outing was nearing its end. Manager Mike Matheny had lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist warming in the bullpen.
Matheny went to Siegrist one pitch too late, perhaps. Wacha gave up a one-out single to Jorge Soler, and it was followed by a two-run homer from Kris Bryant for the go-ahead runs in the Cubs' 8-6 victory.
Although the Cubs had their history-making ace on the mound on Monday night, it was their bats that made history in a victory over the Cardinals.
The Cubs put on a power display unlike any other team in postseason history to take a 2-1 series lead in their National League Division Series matchup against the Cards. From rookies teeing off to back-to-back jacks, Chicago made its mark on the postseason record books.
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals and Cubs are a unique rivalry that's been forged by the proximity of their cities, shaped by its longevity and enhanced by the frequency they've met as part of the same division.
Busch Stadium and Wrigley Field are separated by the length of Illinois -- about 300 miles. The Cardinals and Cubs have met 2,344 times in the regular season and through Sunday, just the last two games of the postseason to add a new wrinkle to the 123-year-old rivalry. The National League Division Series may be even at 1, but Chicago holds the lifetime edge with a 1,197-1,147 record.
CHICAGO -- Much has been made about the Cubs' squadron of talented rookies making the postseason debuts -- Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and more. Meanwhile, Cardinals rookies have factored big through two games of the National League Division Series.
Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham have each hit home runs. Grichuk and Pham went deep as pinch-hitters. Of course, for those who have been around the 100-win Cardinals, this is nothing new. While St. Louis was the best team in baseball all year, it was also one of the clubs most beat up by injuries.
ST. LOUIS -- A few tweaks in the lineup, two badly timed St. Louis errors, some well-executed bunts and a monster home run by Jorge Soler in Game 2 on Saturday at Busch Stadium helped propel the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals and even the National League Division Series at 1-1.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series will be played Monday (6 p.m. ET on TBS) at Wrigley Field, and it will be the first postseason game there since Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS.
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals didn't have the best record in baseball this season because they were mashers at the plate. In fact, they ranked 25th in the Majors with 137 homers.
Suddenly, there's been a postseason power surge. Through two games of the National League Division Series against the Cubs, St. Louis has five homers -- including three on Saturday during a 6-3 loss that left the series split at 1-1.
ST. LOUIS -- After providing a glimpse of how he might utilize Adam Wainwright in Friday's National League Division Series opener, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny deployed his newest bullpen weapon to try to keep his club within striking distance on Saturday.
Wainwright, after running in to a standing ovation from the Busch Stadium sellout crowd, retired all five batters he faced, though the Cardinals still dropped Game 2, 6-3, to the Cubs.
ST. LOUIS -- About one hour before he was set to throw the first pitch of his first postseason start in three seasons, Cardinals Game 2 starter Jaime Garcia hesitantly walked into his manager's office.
He hadn't felt well for three days, he informed Mike Matheny. Hadn't been sleeping soundly either. He explained the ailment -- the latest in his long history of them -- as a stomach virus, but asked for the ball anyways. Matheny gave it to him, only to watch Garcia unravel in a five-run second inning that prompted his early exit and left the Cardinals with a 6-3 loss on Saturday and home split in this best-of-five National League Division Series.
ST. LOUIS -- During his first Spring Training as the manager in Tampa Bay, Joe Maddon sought out Don Zimmer with a few questions. Then, and throughout his time as a special advisor with the Rays, Zimmer would preach the value of the safety squeeze play. Whenever his team pulls it off, Maddon immediately thinks of Zimmer.
Maddon had two occasions Saturday to fondly remember Zimmer's advice, as a pair of squeeze bunts sparked the Cubs' second-inning, small-ball attack in their 6-3 win over the Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have no shortage of great players in their history to showcase. Before Game 2 of the National League Division Series vs. the Cubs on Saturday, they reached out to one of the best-hitting catchers they've had in Ted Simmons to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
Freshly inducted into the Cardinals' Hall of Fame in August -- along with the late Curt Flood and Bob Forsch -- Simmons spent the first 13 seasons of his 21-season career in St. Louis from 1968-1980.
The Cubs earned a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday at Busch Stadium, evening the National League Series at 1-1 heading into Monday's Game 3 in Chicago.
The Cubs snapped a seven-game losing streak in the Division Series, after getting swept in their previous two appearances, in 2007 and '08. Their last victory in this round came in 2003, when they beat the Braves in a decisive Game 5 in Atlanta to advance to the NL Championship Series against the Marlins.
Russell's defense, homers by Wong, Grichuk, Conforto are Game 2 highlights
By Andrew Simon
It's been a good season for rookies across the Major Leagues, and that has continued into the postseason.
On a day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 6-3, and the Dodgers beat the Mets, 5-2, to tie up their respective National League Division Series at 1-1, Statcast™ tracked impressive plays from a few of those rookies. Chicago's Addison Russell sparkled at shortstop, while St. Louis' Randal Grichuk and New York's Michael Conforto both struck impressive blows with the bat.
ST. LOUIS -- Facing their archrivals from Chicago for the first time in postseason history, the Cardinals, behind the experienced postseason arm of John Lackey and a late rookie power surge, nabbed a 4-0 win over the Cubs at Busch Stadium on Friday to open their best-of-five National League Division Series.
Lackey outdueled good friend Jon Lester to boost the Cardinals to an early series lead that has proven pivotal in DS play. Of the 40 teams to win the first game of the NLDS, 36 have gone on to advance to the NL Championship Series. The Cubs will have a chance to even the series on Saturday, when the two teams meet in Game 2 at 4:37 p.m. CT/5:37 ET on TBS.
ST. LOUIS -- Bigger stage? No big deal for these Cardinals rookies.
Once Baby Birds, Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham are now postseason tested, proving Friday that they were not intimidated by the scope of their first postseason games. Both were huge in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series, each hitting home runs in a 4-0 victory over the Cubs.
ST. LOUIS -- Distinguished by his Texas drawl, a fiery nature that has been known to occasionally even put teammates on notice and an October resume longer than any other active starter in the game, John Lackey turned back the clock on Friday night, giving Cubs manager Joe Maddon flashbacks to the young right-hander he saw up close in Anaheim and the Cubs fits in a 4-0 Game 1 win for the Cardinals to open the best-of-five National League Division Series.
A team that steered to a 100-win season without a true ace found one in Lackey on Friday, as the veteran right-hander, just two weeks shy of his 37th birthday, stymied a Chicago club that arrived at Busch Stadium on the high of a nine-game winning streak. In their first postseason game at Busch Stadium, the Cubs were bewitched by Lackey over 7 1/3 innings.
ST. LOUIS -- Fans booed with disapproval Friday when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny emerged from the dugout to visit John Lackey on the mound. And they booed a little louder when Matheny took the ball from Lackey and called for reliever Kevin Siegrist.
But the crowd of 40,830 broke into applause as Lackey departed the mound, congratulating him on a job well done, an act they would repeat a short while later when the bullpen closed out a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of this National League Division Series.
Garcia, who has emerged a key member of the Cardinals' rotation after starting just 16 games from 2013-14, was announced on Monday as one of 12 finalists for Best Bounceback Player. Martinez, an All-Star in his first season as a full-time starter, is up for Best Breakout Player; while Molina, winner of seven straight Gold Glove Awards, is among the nominees for the Best Defensive Player.
ST. LOUIS -- Score one for the guys who have been there and done that.
Before the Cubs could get any wild ideas about rearranging the balance of power in the Midwest rivalry, John Lackey and the Cardinals have reminded them that it's not going to be easy to get past them, even if this was the summer of peace, love and Joe Maddon.
ST. LOUIS -- Jon Lester finished off a scoreless third inning and the Cardinals lost one of two challenges in their 4-0 victory over the Cubs following a close play at first base Friday night at Busch Stadium.
With two outs and nobody on in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday hit a hard ground ball to second base off Lester.
ST. LOUIS -- With the Cardinals prioritizing offense over defense in their Game 1 National League Division Series lineup, Stephen Piscotty made his first career postseason appearance at a position where he made just nine previous big league starts.
He held his own there, contributed to the 4-0 win over the Cubs with a pair of key hits and was able to finish the game in a more familiar outfield spot after manager Mike Matheny made a late-game defensive switch that proved ever so timely.
10 cool facts from Cards' NLDS Game 1 win vs. Cubs
By Paul Casella
Cardinals starter John Lackey managed to outlast Cubs counterpart Jon Lester in a Friday night pitchers' duel in the first postseason meeting between the rivals.
Lackey made some franchise history in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, while Tommy Pham also penciled his name into the record books with a rare rookie accomplishment. On a more general note, history certainly favors the Cardinals following their 4-0 Game 1 victory, while the Cubs will need to do something they've never done before in order to advance.
ST. LOUIS -- During his 17-year Major League career, outfielder Reggie Sanders went to the playoffs six times with five different clubs -- including twice for the Cardinals in 2004-05.
Sanders was needed once more in the postseason -- to throw the ceremonial first pitch moments before the start of Friday's Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium. The timing was fitting because it was 10 years ago when Sanders set an NLDS record with 10 RBIs in the 2005 NLDS vs. the Padres.