ST. LOUIS - After witnessing John Lackey dominate over opposing teams at Busch Stadium the past two years, the Cardinals fell victim Monday to their former teammate in a 5-0 loss. And shockingly it was as if the Cards had never seen the salty veteran pitch before.
Lackey began the game by issuing a walk to Matt Carpenter but that would be the only the runner the home team would have for the next three innings. Lackey easily maneuvered around any trouble with the Cardinals taking ugly hacks at pitches well out of the strike zone.
Typical consistent and patient hitters looking incompetent in the box. Lackey could have been throwing a beach ball or a golf ball and it wouldn't have matter as the Cardinals chased a majority of the starter's 91 pitches. Stephen Piscotty fished for two consecutive cutters in the fourth inning only to come up empty handed. That was one of Lackey’s 11 strikeouts and the 20th time in his career he struck out double digit batters.
Brandon Moss, who blasted two home runs over the weekend, completed a feat no batter wants to accomplish - the golden sombrero - as he fanned in all four at-bats. Lackey surrendered only one extra base hit, a double from Aledmys Diaz in the sixth. Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong were the only Cardinals with a hit against the right-hander.
“He was good today,” Matheny said, not at all surprised at Lackey’s effectiveness. “Guys were having trouble picking him up. You could tell he was amped up. The ball was coming out of his hand very well today. He was locating it and he got us to expand the zone. He had a lot of chases.”
In his two seasons in St. Louis, Lackey posted a 12-4 record at Busch Stadium with a 2.03 ERA - the lowest number in any ballpark where Lackey started at least four games.
The scariest stat for the Cardinals is their 14 total strikeouts against Chicago pitchers. Combining their total with in the season series opener against the Pirates and the Birds have struck out 50 times against their biggest rivals in the Central Division.
They’re no longer playing the Braves, Brewers or Reds and right now this offense looks shaky. They have the chance to redeem themselves Tuesday evening taking on Jason Hammel. The Cardinals have posted a .306 average against the Cub right-hander.