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 pm CT 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 -- Cardinals starter John Lackey flirted with postseason history when he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning during Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday vs. the Cubs at Busch Stadium. The suspense ended when Addison Russell led off the top of the sixth with a rolling single through the middle. St. Louis topped Chicago, 4-0, to take the opener of the five-game series.
Through the fifth, Lackey faced the minimum 15 batters while throwing only 56 pitches. His lone blemish was a one-out walk on five pitches to Kyle Schwarber in the top of the fourth inning. But the next batter, Kris Bryant, ended the inning by grounding to third base for a double play.
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 -- As injuries brought seemingly constant attrition of key players from the Cardinals' 2015 roster, left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia was well-ahead of that trend. Garcia spent the previous three seasons battling serious arm issues and spent this season proving he was healthy.
It's gone so well that the Cardinals did something few might have expected when the year opened by giving Garcia the ball for Game 2 of the National League Division Series (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET, TBS).
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hasn't had many slumps in his short career. But the National League Rookie of the Year front-runner is in one now, and the Cardinals will look to frustrate him further on Saturday.
Following John Lackey's strong performance in the NL Division Series opener, Jaime Garcia takes his turn for St. Louis in Game 2, scheduled for 4:37 p.m. CT/5:37 ET on TBS. Kyle Hendricks gets the start for the Cubs.
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 -- Not scheduled to start until a potential Game 4 of the National League Division Series (Tuesday on TBS), Cardinals righty Lance Lynn was made available out of the team's bullpen in Friday's 4-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs.
The addition gave manager Mike Matheny an eight-pitcher 'pen to utilize behind starter John Lackey, though Matheny's preference was to avoid having to call on Lynn. He didn't have to, as Lackey went 7 1/3 scoreless innings and two relievers finished off a three-hit shutout.
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. That's why just hours before Friday's game, which the Cards won, 4-0, he and infield coach Jose Oquendo had another lengthy session in what has been a three-month crash course at first base.
"He has work to do, but he's making good progress," Oquendo said on Friday. "He's sharp. He's smart. He makes the routine plays, which is the main thing. After that, we'll go from there. It'll be nice starting fresh next year in Spring Training where we can have time to explain a lot of different things about playing first base."
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.
ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals' 25-man National League Division Series roster isn't officially due until Friday morning, manager Mike Matheny eliminated ongoing speculation by announcing the club's roster plans following the team's Thursday afternoon workout.
The Cardinals will use an 11-man pitching staff and 14 position players, including Yadier Molina, in their best-of-five series against the Cubs that starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS. The club is confident enough in Molina's health that it will carry just one backup backstop. That will be Tony Cruz.
ST. LOUIS -- As the Cardinals emerged from the shock that enveloped them in the wake of Oscar Taveras' death last October, they looked to one man to lead them forward. That man had spent the prior week peppered with criticism for his postseason decisions -- none more scrutinized than his use of Michael Wacha -- was all of a sudden needed for what he did best:
ST. LOUIS -- Before getting started with the seemingly important stuff, there's one detail you should know about this National League Division Series that begins tonight (6:30 p.m. ET, TBS).
Should the Cubs ever find themselves with a five-run lead, the Cardinals are advised to hold runners on first base, because the Cubs will look to steal bases and push the action to extend the lead to six runs.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Yadier Molina and his son drop the first puck of St. Louis Blues season
By Mike Bertha |
The postseason is just getting started in St. Louis and hockey's already poking its nose into the picture. With the Cardinals set to host the Cubs for Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS, the NHL's St. Louis Blues opened up their regular season on Thursday night.
Stomping Grounds: Friends always pushed each other in college
By Carrie Muskat and Jenifer Langosch
ST. LOUIS -- When Jake Arrieta and Matt Carpenter were teammates at TCU, they created their own decathlon, including events such as ping pong, foosball and basketball. Since the Cubs acquired Arrieta in July 2013, the two have found themselves going head to head in the National League Central.
Carpenter said he could cheer for Arrieta when he was with the Orioles, but since the right-hander joined the Cubs, it's been tough.
ST. LOUIS -- They've played more than 2,300 times, but the Cubs and Cardinals have never played any games that mean more than the ones they're going to play over the next week. Yet along the way the Cubs and Cardinals have built one of baseball's greatest rivalries, with passion on the field and in the stands whether playing for first place or bragging rights alone.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
NLDS: Cubs-Cardinals position by position
By AJ Cassavell
The Cardinals and Cubs -- who will square off in the National League Division Series beginning Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS -- combined to win 197 games this season. It's the most combined wins by Division Series opponents since the Cards and Dodgers won 198 in 2004.
St. Louis and Chicago faced each other 19 times during the season, with the Cardinals winning 11 of those matchups. Those three extra wins proved to be the difference between the two clubs in the NL Central, and the Cardinals will open the NLDS at home with a fully rested pitching staff, as a result. The Cubs, meanwhile, beat the Pirates, 4-0, in the NL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Wednesday, meaning one of the greatest rivalries in sports will take center stage over the next week.
ST. LOUIS -- His team in need of starting pitching depth, general manager John Mozeliak sifted through the available options last summer with an eye on not only what an acquisition could do in the immediate but also what it would mean for October.
It was with postseason aspirations in mind that Mozeliak swung a deal with the Red Sox for John Lackey, parting with young pitching talent Joe Kelly and an underachieving Allen Craig to land a pitcher who had been a six-time postseason participant. Lackey added a seventh playoff run to his resume a year ago and will be the Cardinals' starter in Game 1 of National League Division Series at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday as the Cardinals begin another championship quest.
ST. LOUIS -- One of baseball's most storied rivalries is about to get its first postseason edition.
With a 4-0 victory over the Pirates in Wednesday's National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, the Cubs earned a trip to St. Louis to meet the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, beginning Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS. Two teams that first squared off in 1882 and have played another 2,363 games against one another since have never faced off in the postseason.
Ex-teammates will square off in Friday's NLDS opener
By Mark Sheldon and Jordan Bastian
MLB.com |@MLBastian |
ST. LOUIS -- The friendship of Cardinals starter John Lackey and Cubs starter Jon Lester runs deep and is sure to continue well beyond Friday night. This is despite the fact that both of them have divergent goals when they meet in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium, live on TBS at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Lackey and Lester became best friends when both pitched in the same rotation with the Red Sox. They won a World Series together for Boston in 2013 and remained close since they headed to separate teams.
You might not have noticed it over the past few years, but John Lackey has been adjusting.
Since 2011, Lackey has thrown more first-pitch strikes each year. With the Red Sox that season, Lackey threw his first pitch for a strike 61 percent of the time, slightly higher than the MLB average of 59.4 percent. In the three seasons since -- he missed 2012 with an elbow injury -- Lackey's first-pitch strike percentage has jumped from 61 to 64.3 to 67.8 to 70.8, far higher than the mere 1.5 percent jump baseball as a whole has made in that time.
ST. LOUIS -- With the Cardinals' 25-man National League Division Series roster not due until Friday morning, both manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak declined to reveal some of the organization's roster decisions on Wednesday.
"I know it's a hot topic, and I get it," Matheny said before his team had a two-hour workout at Busch Stadium. "It's been something since that day [we clinched] in Pittsburgh where I really have tried not to distract ourselves from getting too far ahead. But since then, it's been on our minds nonstop, and I think anybody who follows this team closely realizes there are a lot of decisions that need to be made there. We've spent a lot of hours trying to figure out what's going to be best for this club."
ST. LOUIS -- Greg Garcia arrived on the University of Hawaii campus by way of Southern California, where, as a junior, he received a mailing from a Hawaii baseball program that he didn't even know existed. Curiosity led him to do an Internet search, at which time he discovered that not only was there a program, but a thriving one. The team had just enjoyed a 45-win season in 2006 that featured an NCAA Regional invite and a swell of local support.
Kolten Wong knew all of that already, having long followed the team that played just an island hop away from his home on Hawaii's Big Island. And he was known, too.
Back in the postseason for a fifth straight year, the 100-win Cardinals return to October with an eye on capturing the 12th World Series championship in franchise history. The Cardinals will open the National League Division Series in St. Louis on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (TBS) against either the Pirates or Cubs. With that best-of-five series on tap, here is a look at five reasons why the Cardinals can win the World Series for the third time in 10 years:
ST. LOUIS -- As a reward for good behavior and good grades, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter surprised a student at St. Louis' Lift for Life Academy with tickets to Game 1 of the Cardinals' National League Division Series. The Cardinals open postseason play at Busch Stadium on Friday against the Pirates or Cubs at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
Posing as the school's principal, Carpenter called the student to his office, then congratulated him on being nominated by his teachers to receive the postseason tickets. Carpenter also presented the student with a personalized jersey and postseason hat.
ST. LOUIS -- Before Robin Ventura became a two-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glove Award winner and manager of the White Sox, he was an occasional babysitter for Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday.
Ventura, who acknowledged that he'll have a rooting interest as Holliday's Cardinals open the postseason with a National League Division Series matchup against the Pirates or Cubs on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (TBS), grew close to the Holliday family during his time playing under head coach Tom Holliday, Matt's father, at Oklahoma State University from 1985-88.