>Cardinals’ record: 1-2 (Series 2-0-1), 8-5 (season)

Cardinals 7, Cubs 4
And the rivalry kicks off in what I think will be a year where these two teams battle it out atop the NL Central. Wainwright was on the mound today, and he looked like he still wanted to flirt with disaster a little, but again, managed to pull it out. Most significantly, he set down Milton Bradley (you know, the Monopoly guy…) and Alfonso Soriano with bases loaded to end his afternoon after the sixth inning. His only major mistake was giving up a 3-run bomb to Fukudome in the fifth. McClellan (7th and 8th) and Franklin (9th) put a serious hush on the Cubs fans at Wrigley by striking out 4 in the last 3 innings (2 each), and not allowing a hit or giving up a walk.
Offensive star of this game was Duncan, who has been playing great so far this year. He was 3-4 with 3 RBI’s and a run scored, which included his second HR of the season. He is now hitting .389 on the young season and appears to be seeing the ball very well lately (it was his second 3 hit game in a row). Duncan has a hit in every game that he’s started so far this season (10 games), and walked in his one pinch-hit appearance back on April 8th against the Pirates.
Cubs 8, Cardinals 7
I caught most of this one on our new XM radio as we were driving home from Terre Haute. First thing I hear is that Perez walked Miles, and I had a bad feeling about how the 8th was going to go. And I was right. Soriano drilled a 2 run shot just a few pitches later. The Cardinal bullpen needs to throw strikes and not let people get on base if they want to avoid a repeat of last season’s debacle. That being said, the fill-in starter for the injured Carpenter went today instead of Sunday night, which is when Carp was scheduled to pitch. It was obvious that he had some early jitters, which is to be expected – matched up against your biggest rival’s best pitcher on the road is a tough call for anybody to make his MLB debut. It was shaky early, but it seems like he settled down quite a bit.
What is going to be lost is a monster game by Ryan Ludwick, today’s player of the game. He was 3-5 with 4 RBI’s and a pair of homer’s. Unfortunately, he also struck out with runners on 1st and 2nd for the first out of the 9th inning, but he shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. At worst, it should have been a tie game.
Cubs 7, Cardinals 5
Another rough game that could’ve easily been a Cardinal win. You have to feel a little better about this one compared to the previous game because they battled back to tie it in the 8th. However, with a 4-1 lead after 4 innings, there shouldn’t have been a need to battle back. Looks like Lohse was doing well early on, but they got to him in the 5th to score 3 and tie it up.
I’m thinking that Ludwick is the best bet for player of the game. He had 2 of the 6 Cardinal hits on the day, and drove in a pair as well. Not much else to say about this one.
Cardinals, Cubs PPD
Well, this is interesting. I hadn’t thought about what to do if the Cardinals had a postponed game. Technically, this series will not be completed until July 12th, as part of a doubleheader. So, officially, I cannot declare this a series loss, even though the Cardinals are down 1-2 in the series. If I’m still doing series recaps by mid-July, I’ll be updating the Series record then (it’ll either be a tie or a loss).
Up next: The Cards have their first day off of the season on Monday, and then welcome the Mets into town for three games beginning Tuesday. Starting Tuesday, the Cardinals have 20 games in a row before having another day off. It’s going to be a rough stretch, but it’s one they’ll be thankful for at the end of the year.