The Chicago Cubs will try feed off the energy of a full house for a second straight day when they host the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
The Cubs rallied for an 8-5 victory over the Cardinals on Friday afternoon in the first game of full spectator capacity played at Wrigley Field this season.
“We talked last year about some of the guys, and do the fans matter? Does it impact guys?” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I mean, clearly, those fans helped us win that game.”
The opener of the three-game series between the National League Central rivals was played with an Opening Day atmosphere after the pandemic restrictions were finally lifted.
“There’s a couple memories and moments that stand out for me in my playing career here, and that’ll definitely be one that’ll stick with me,” Ross said. “That was special.”
The streaking Cubs have won four of their last five games, while the slumping Cardinals have lost seven of their last eight.
“This game hinges on a few things most nights, and some days it doesn’t go your way,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We played a really good game the day before yesterday, so I don’t want to look in the rearview mirror too much. We played a lot of clean baseball.”
Shildt praised his team’s effort in the face of its prolonged downturn.
“You know me. I’d be honest if I thought we weren’t playing clean or weren’t playing with effort or focus,” he said. “But we are. I can’t say anything more than that. There are some positive things taking place, but I realize it’s an end-result game.”
Kyle Hendricks was the projected Cubs starter for Friday’s game, but Ross started right-hander Kohl Stewart instead and pushed Hendricks back a day.
Hendricks (7-4, 4.59 ERA) earned a 12-3 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis on May 21. He allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Hendricks has a string of five consecutive quality starts with three or fewer runs allowed and six or more innings pitched.
He is 10-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 21 career starts against the Cardinals. Hendricks has been especially hard on younger hitters Tyler O’Neill (1-for-8, three strikeouts), Dylan Carlson (1-for-6, two strikeouts) and Tommy Edman (3-for-16).
On the other hand, Paul Goldschmidt is 11-for-32 with seven doubles against the right-hander.
The Cardinals will counter with John Gant (4-3, 2.63). The right-hander is coming off of his worst outing of the year: seven runs allowed in four innings against the Cincinnati Reds.
He walked three batters and allowed two homers.
“A little bit of everything was not quite as sharp as I would have liked it to be,” Gant said.
Prior to that game, Gant allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his 10 starts to open the season.
Gant is 2-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 13 career appearances against the Cubs, including three starts.
Anthony Rizzo (5-for-9, double, homer, two RBIs) and Willson Contreras (2-for-6, RBI) have hit well against him, while Kris Bryant (0-for-8) and Javier Baez (2-for-11, three strikeouts) have not.
–Field Level Media