It took six tries, but the St. Louis Cardinals finally came away with a win against one of the other elite teams in the NL Central.
In a game that would have taken 2 hours and 40 minutes to play were it not for weather, the Cards came away 5-3 winners at home against the Chicago Cubs, avoiding a sweep.
A rain delay that lasted nearly 3 and a half hours settled in on Busch Stadium in the bottom of the 7th, testing the patience of those of us who were looking forward to the game.
In fact, it was a bit of a yawner.
Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk set the mood in the top of the 1st inning, robbing Anthony Rizzo of a home run over the center field wall for the third out.
Matt Holliday connected for a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning and the Birds got two more in the 2nd – Yadier Molina doubled and later scored on a wild pitch by Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks then Kolten Wong scored on an RBI single by St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez.
The Cubs made a game of it following the rain delay as they picked up a pair of runs in the 8th.
But the Cards came back with an insurance run in the bottom of the inning and Trevor Rosenthal closed it out in the 9th, striking out the side for this 100th career save.
Both teams were headed to other destinations following the game – Chicago to Cincinnati and St. Louis to San Diego – so you never want a game that ends more than 6 hours after it began.
But such is life in April baseball, where Mother Nature often has plans of her own.
The “Big Three” all have chances to win over the weekend, with the Cubs (11-4) visiting the Cincinnati Reds (8-7) for a four-game series that begins this evening, the Cards (8-7) visiting the San Diego Padres (6-9) for a three-game set that starts tomorrow, and the Pittsburgh Pirates (7-8)road trip continuing with a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (8-8).
(The Bucs have one more game against San Diego this evening.)
The most interesting of those match-ups is probably the Pirates / D-Backs series.
Pittsburgh was expected to be solid again this season, yet they seem to be spinning their wheels right now. Their National League ranks are 8th in both runs scored and runs allowed per game. So they are right there in the middle. They have a run differential of minus-6.
There was expectations that ‘zona could contend in the NL West, particularly with the acquisition of Zack Greinke, and yet here they are with a pedestrian .500 record, ranking 9th in runs scored and 11th in runs allowed per game.
Just looking at the 2016 standings, you’d think that’s about as bland of a series as you can get. But knowing what’s expected of each team, and only being almost 10% of the way through the season, it’s hard to not want to watch and try to figure out where, if anywhere, those two squads are headed.