Game Three – Cubs 5 Cardinals 1
Updated – 10:15pm C.T.
In the immortal words of Pat Hughes, “And Away We Go”….On a cloudy, cold Opening Day at Wrigley the Cubs handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season. It was a typical early December….uh….April day in Chicago….temperature at game time was in the upper 30’s. Greg Maddux took the mound and he was more like the ’96 version of Maddog than the nearly 40-year old the Cubs Faithful hoped would have a winning season. Maddux pitched 6 1/3 innings on Friday….throwing 86 pitches. He allowed only 1 run, a home run by Jim Edmonds in the top of the 7th, on 4 hits. Maddux was masterful and the Cubs offense supplied enough runs to give him the first victory of the season for a Cubs’ starter.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Derrek Lee hit a solo shot off of Jeff Suppan and the Cubs never looked back…. The Cubs defense had a much better outing on Friday. Ronny Cedeno showed off his range and strong arm, as well as his bat. With 2 outs in the bottom of the 2nd, Matt Murton walked and scored on a triple by Cedeno. Not only did Cedeno knock in the run; he continues to flip the order. Matt Murton then showed off his defensive skills in the top of the 4th. With one out and Juan Encarnacion on first, Jim Edmonds hit a shot to left, Murton made an amazing catch and threw a strike to Derrek Lee, 7-3 double play….inning over.
The usual sharp Cardinals defense committed 2 errors and the Cubs took advantage of the gifts. After Juan Pierre led off the bottom of the 3rd with ground out to Scott Rolen, Neifi Perez hit a bloop single (1 of 3 hits on Friday for Neifi). Derrek Lee walked and Aramis Ramirez hit what should have been a routine double-play to David Eckstein. Eckstein made a bad throw to Aaron Miles….Neifi scored….Derrek Lee to 3rd. The Cardinals then intentionally walked Jacque Jones to get to Michael Barrett. Barrett promptly singled up the middle on a hanging curve from Jeff Suppan….Derrek Lee scored. Matt Murton ended the inning by grounding into a double play….extra outs and extra pitches.
The Cubs actually tried a squeeze play….let me repeat the Cubs tried a squeeze play. In the bottom of the 4th with Ronny Cedeno on third, Juan Pierre attempted a squeeze bunt and the ball just went foul. Cedeno later scored on Pierre’s single to center.
The bullpen was the other story on Friday, after Maddux left the game Bobby Howry and Ryan Dempster did their job and held the Cardinals hitless over the last 2 2/3 innings. Howry struck out three in an 1 2/3 innings.
The defense was strong; the Cubs turned two double plays. The pitching was great; held that Cardinals offense to only four hits and none for Mr. Pujols. The offense was good enough to provide a win; 9 total hits, 2-out RBI’s and 5 left on base. What will they do on Saturday for an encore?