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Cardinals Prospects Shine As Randal Grichuk Seals The Deal To Snap Cubs 11 Game Winning Streak

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Randal Grichuk was 1-4 in Game Three against the Cubs with four runs. Grand Slam in the eighth.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals first two games against the Chicago Cubs, they saw Game One slip away in Cubs walk-off 4-3 win in the eleventh. Game Two, after losing Matt Holliday who sustained a broken thumb on a HBP in the first game, were sluggish at best in the Cubs 13-2 rout. Game Three, the Cardinals came to play some of their best ball facing a very strong adversary, Cubs Kyle Hendricks, along with a proven strong Cubs team. And to face the Cubs, Cardinals #2 prospect Luke Weaver, who made his starting debut replacing the absent Michael Wacha, currently on the DL. Weaver was followed by top prospect Alex Reyes. Both were key in the Cardinals 8-4 win. 

Hendricks, who was 8-1/1.19 ERA at Wrigley Field, fanned 12 in his seven innings pitched yesterday. Since the All Star break, he had only given up a total of four earned runs; but all were on the road. The last he had given up a run at home was June 19 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yesterday, the Cardinals handed him two earned runs on two home runs. A two out solo shot by Brandon Moss (20th HR this season) in his sixth; and, Jedd Gyorko, (his 17th) with a solo into the left field bleachers to tie the game, two all, in his seventh. 

Cardinals #2 Prospect Luke Weaver makes his debut in Game Three against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Weaver, from all interviews I have seen with this 22 year old, is confident in himself and in his ability. Not an over the top ego. He did not display an overall nervousness about being called to make this start. His mom took care of Luke's nervousness; and, his dad, well he showed no emotion one way or the other. He knew what his son was capable of; and, a look of expectation to see his solid execution. Weaver knew the task before him, had time to dissect his future start as he was told late this past week of his trip north. He was looking forward to the opportunity handed to him. His first inning did not disappoint. With a calm demeanor, maybe a dash of the jitters for his debut, he took the mound. In his first inning, he takes down the side with strikeouts handed to the first two Cubs to face him, and a ground out by Anthony Rizzo. Welcome to the Big League.  

His second inning was a bit rougher on him; and, on mom. He allowed two hits and two earned runs. A double by Ben Zobrist; and, a two-run homer cranked out by Addison Russell to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. The Cubs were not finished with this young hurler. Cubs had loaded the bases and Weaver had two outs. Cubs looking to extend their lead. Cubs slugger Kris Bryant grounded out to SS Greg Garcia. Weaver stranded the three and got out of his jam. He held the Cubs scoreless in his next two innings, with another three up, three down in his fourth. With 86 pitches thrown, 50 strikes thrown, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny retired him after his fourth, with 1 HR/2 ER/3-BB/3 SO for his debut. In my opinion, a solid start for Weaver. Holding a minor league 1.78 ERA, he closed his day with a 4.50 ERA. However, I foresee that average to be lowered in his future starts. I feel he did quite well facing a team who holds the most wins in both MLB leagues. Plus, as a first time starter in the Bigs, he is a part of the Cardinals team that would go on to snap the Cubs 11 game winning streak.

Cardinals Alex Reyes got the nod to follow Weaver. He made his debut this past Tuesday night, August 9, at Busch Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds. Due to Reyes 4.98 ERA with the Memphis Triple-A Redbirds, he was placed in the bullpen. He was called for the ninth inning against the Reds. He allowed no earned runs with one strikeout. In yesterday's game, Reyes pitched the next three innings. He held the Cubs scoreless, with issuing one free pass and had three strikeouts. He has yet to record an ERA in the majors; and has added his name to the franchise history book with earning his first major league win in relief.  

One of two prospects Cardinals Nation have seen in the last five days. A small sampling thus far; but, I feel both have a very bright future with St. Louis. Reyes, who may be brought into the Cardinals rotation at some point; in my opinion, will be held in the bullpen for mid-inning or long relief, possible closer occasionally behind Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh. However, with 32 walks issued in his 65.1 innings in the minors, Matheny will give him more time to prove his ability. Even though a high walk ratio, we do know Reyes had 93 strikeouts while starting for the Redbirds. Weaver, 2016 starter with the Springfield Double-A Cardinals and a one game start with the Redbirds, had pitched 83 innings, issuing only 12 walks/92 SO for a 0.93 WHIP. To have this pitching duo with the Cardinals is definitely welcomed by their fans. 

And the Cardinals offense had their backs. Cubs reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. followed Hendricks for the eighth. Almost equal to the Cubs hammering of Cardinals Jerome Williams in Game Two in late innings, the Cardinals hand Edwards a bit of payback. With one out, he loaded the bases with two walks and a single by Matt Carpenter. Yadier Molina struck out, as Stephen Piscotty added a run to take the lead on Edward's wild pitch. He issued his third walk to keep the bags loaded. Issued walk #4, for a walk-in run by Carpenter. Bases still loaded, Cubs manager Joe Maddon made the call to the pen. Joe Smith was called to replace Edwards, with a full house and two outs on the board. Randal Grichuk, who had been 0-3 against Hendricks, came to the plate. On Smith's 0-1 pitch, that's all Grichuk needed to bring in four runs on his Grand Slam homer into the left center basket. Grichuk, who has been demoted twice this season to see time with the Memphis Redbirds and recalled August 11 when Holliday was injured, made his return statement, to celebrate his 25th birthday, giving the Cardinals an 8-2 lead, topping off the six runs scored in the eighth.     

Welcome back, Randal Grichuk. I believe it fitting that the Cubs' fan, who retrieved the ball from the outfield basket, was wearing Maddon's signature "Try Not To Suck" t-shirt. He didn't know whether to keep the ball ... or, throw it back on the field, as many do - which boggles my mind. But .... 

Seth Maness came in for the ninth. He gave up two hits, and the Cubs added a run on his error throw. Maness retired, followed by Zach Duke. He got the first out. His second out on the ground; but, Addison Russell was able to add the Cubs fourth and final run of the game. Jorge Soler grounded out to close the inning for Duke. to hand the Cardinals the win for Game Three. Which, once again, snapped the Cubs 11 game winning streak. Edwards is handed his first loss this season. 

FINAL GAME TONIGHT, MLB FEATURED SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL ~ 

Coverage begins at 7:00 CST tonight for the featured MLB Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Cardinals Mike Leake (8-9/4.79 ERA) facing Cubs John Lackey (9-7/3.56 ERA). Against the Cubs this season, Leake holds a 3.86/3 ER/1-BB/6 SO for his six innings pitched. This will be his first appearance this season at Wrigley Field. Lackey, 6-4/2.67 ERA at home and facing the Cardinals this season, a 2.70 average. In his 20 IP, he has given up 3 HR/6 ER on 15 hits. Issued five walks and had 26 strikeouts. In his two starts in August, at home, he has only given up four earned runs, with two home runs, while only issuing one free pass and fanning 14. Leake, his two starts in August, both against the Reds, 10 ER/5-BB and only two strikeouts. If Leake can hold the Cubs to minimum hits, the Cardinals offense will take care of Lackey. He has given up 3 HR/13 RBI in his past history facing his former team. 

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