The St. Louis Cardinals had their Home Opener spoiled by the Chicago Cubs on Friday, as the North Siders downed the Redbirds 9-5. The Cubs were up 8-0 at one point, so the Cards did make a game of it. But huge hits by the visitors early in the game were too much to overcome.
It was a weird Home Opener from the get-go. First, the whole situation had ominous implications: The Cardinals were playing their home opener against the Cubs on Friday the 13th. That could not be scripted better for weird things to happen. Next, the weather would not cooperate and the game was delayed nearly two hours before things even got underway. Then, the resulting conditions on the field made it so the Budweiser Clydesdales could not make their signature trip around the Busch Stadium turf. A jinx? Perhaps. The only thing for certain is that display of the Clydesdales is as much a part of the Opening Day ceremonies for the Cards as is having Hall of Famers on hand and someone throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.
Everything else about the pregame festivities went fine, and the game started late but was played in its entirety. But it was an ugly game for the Cardinals.
Adam Wainwright got rocked early and often. Maybe the chilly, wet weather had an effect on his surgically-repaired elbow, or maybe his routine was altered, or maybe he just didn’t have it in this start. But it seemed like every pitch he threw Friday was hittable. It definitely was not the Wainwright we are used to seeing…but then again, we really have not seen him in a long time because of the injury. Hopefully this was just a bump in the road and starts like these are few and far between for the Cards’ hurler.
Some of the Cubs’ hits could be classified as seeing-eye singles or finding the holes, but they launched a couple of homers that really put the game out of reach early.The Cardinals’ offense, however, was not able to find an answer early on. Jeff Samardzija stymied the Cards’ bats until the 5th inning, when the Redbirds climbed back into the game by putting up five runs. But it was all they could muster.
There is something even more disappointing about losing the Home Opener. No one likes to lose any games, but losing is a part of baseball. No team wins them all; in fact, just winning two thirds of a team’s games puts that team into historic territory. But at the Home Opener, whether it’s the first game of the year or the seventh, that feels like it is owned by the home team. They pull out all the stops to make the entire day an event not soon to be forgotten. The St. Louis Cardinals are great at this. It’s not just about lining the players up and introducing each one individually over the stadium’s sound system; it’s about tradition and success and icons and starting things off on the right foot. So when the game sucks, was it all in vain? Did we drag these people and these vehicles and these trophies out just to the team can blow it on the field? Of course not. But after all the ceremonies and celebration is over, it does not become just another game. That cake needs icing. On Friday, there was none.
In the grand scheme of things, it was Game 8 of 162. There is still plenty of baseball left to play. But I would bet the Cardinals come out hungry for a win on Saturday. Maybe this time Mother Nature and the Baseball Gods will cooperate.
Chris Reed also writes for InsideSTL Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he feels like it. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.