Bring on the Cardinals! The Midwestern rivals face each other for the first time in the post season. In the regular season the Cardinals lead the Cubs 11-8, but the last two times the Cubs faced St. Louis in the regular season (both in September) the Cubs took both series 2-1. It’s a rivalry, a big one and the Cardinals never put up an easy game against the Cubs, but this is not an insurmountable feat for the boys in blue to overcome.
The last game the Cardinals one was September 30th, after clinching the division they subsequently lost the rest of their regular season games. The Cubs on the other hand are streaking, and streaking pretty hard. After wrapping the regular season with an 8 game win streak the Cubs shut out the Pirates in their first Wild Card appearance. Jake Arrieta’s prowess ensured that the bullpen will be very well rested for tonight’s matchup because Jake went the distance on Wednesday and pitched the full game. He’ll be back on the mound for the first home game in this series on Monday. For tonight we rest our hopes on Jon Lester, he’ll face his former Red Sox teammate John Lackey. If Lester can successfully manage base runners tonight things should go well, we know he has the stuff and has a World Series ring to prove it. His main weakness has been allowing stolen bases and while the Cardinals are not the fastest base runners in the league they will exploit any weakness they can find. Lester enters the game 11-12 on the season with a 3.34 ERA. The struggle will be real tonight but Joe Maddon and momentum will be able to ensure a Cubby victory.
I’m excited to see the official lineup once it is released tonight. Maddon threw some interesting twists into Wednesday’s lineup in order to lock in a more than solid batting order. It will be interesting to see how he mixes it up tonight. The most intense part of tonight, will be that you will likely be able to feel the heat coming off the players. The great rivalry of the Midwest goes unnoticed by many of us here on the east coast. Partially due to the fact that the Cubs are usually pretty low in the NL central rankings whereas in comparison the Red Sox are usually barely trailing the Yankees (of course ignoring 2015) The heat has been at simmer for several years, generally with a fight, or at least fighting words once a season but nothing big enough for any national mention. With the arrival of Joe Maddon and the 97 regular season wins of the Cubs this year the rivalry has gone full boil. The Cardinals have a penchant for dinging opposing team pitchers to protect their own hitters. This created a bit of a flare up in the Cubs last series with the Cardinals during which both teams managers were ejected. Maddon has since noted in a press conference that the Cubs will not be the ones to start anything “but we will stop stuff.” He has gone as far as calling the Cardinals “vigilantes.” I’m all for a manager who is looking to protect his team, and I think the added heat is giving both teams something to prove. They will play tough tonight; maybe this has been part of Maddon’s genius strategy all along, rekindle a dying fire to get your team ready for any and all action. This all makes you wonder about post season bench clearing brawl statistics, if any one team has set off two in a row. Maybe the Cubs make even more history this weekend by being the first to do so. Though the last thing any of us in Cubs Nation want is to see game suspensions so here’s hoping if they brawl they do so ever so politely.
Until tomorrow! Go Cubs Go!