(BaseballStL) — Friday was a good day to be in the outfield seats at Wrigley as the Cubs and Cards combined for five homers on their way to 13 runs.
After three unearned runs in the first for the Cardinals, Ryan Sweeney evened the tallies with a three-run shot to left center field. It was only his second homer of the season, and it came off a Joe Kelly change up.
“I think he was really working hard to get a feel for his off speed, which made him effective his last time out,” Mike Matheny said after the game, noting that Kelly didn’t appear to have command of his fastball in the same way he did against the Dodgers.
The manager said Kelly was leaning on his secondary pitches and each time he did, he moved further away from controlling his heater.
“It’s kind of a catch-22 if it keeps you away from establishing your fastball,” Matheny said. “He was going to it but it wasn’t dialed in. If you can establish your secondary pitches and you have that sinker to go to, it’s going to keep them off balance.”
Instead, Kelly said it worked the opposite way. He was able to get hitters down to their last strike, but his fastball was an unknown quantity.
“I didn’t have the location at all. Pitches were going down the middle and running instead of sinking,” he said. “The ball was leaking, moving more than usual.”
The Cubs picked up another run in the third, when Luis Valbuena walked on four pitches (all fastballs) and was scored by back-to-back singles. Afterward Kelly said he felt like his delivery was taking some of the electricity and control away from his power pitch.
“[I was] just getting on the side of it instead of staying behind it and powering it through the zone,” he said. “The only pitch I got on top of - which you need to- was the curveball and I should have been on top of every single pitch.”
Travis Wood took a heater deep in the fourth, pushing the lead to 5-3. It was his third homer of the season, and came on a 1-2 count.
“Obviously the walks hurt, but getting ahead of guys with two strikes and not being able to put the ball where I wanted it, they made me pay for it.”
The Cubs had eight hits off Kelly, half of which came with two strikes in the count. He was eventually pulled with two outs in the fifth, throwing 99 pitches. It was the first time he’s allowed more than seven hits since September 6 of last season.
He wouldn’t take the loss, however, as St. Louis pulled back to even off twin blasts by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday in the top half of the fifth. They took the lead in the sixth when Oscar Taveras’ pinch hit single plated Mark Ellis. It came off of lefty reliever Wesley Wright, something Matheny seemed to suggest his prospect will probably see more of.
“We had a conversation before the game about how we have confidence in him against left handers and to stay ready,” he said. “I think he’s a good hitter and he’s finding a good feel for his swing right now.” The free-swinging outfielder has a hit in his last three games, two of which were off the bench.
The Cardinals lost the lead for good in the seventh, when Luis Valbuena popped a two-run shot to center field off Kevin Siegrist. It was the lefty’s first appearance since going on the DL in late May, and his second inning of work started with a hit batter and ended with Valbuena’s homer. Matheny didn’t second guess his choice, saying it was just a bad result to a good matchup.
“We had the match ups we wanted there. We wanted him in that situation in that part of the lineup and the lefty ended up getting him,” he said.
The Cardinals would put men on in the next two innings but fail to score the tying run. They fall to 54-48, and could slip to third in the division depending on Friday night’s outcomes.