Usually when the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals get together on a weekend in July, the bad blood between the fans of the two teams is quite evident. However, this past weekend things around Wrigley Field were different. Fans seemed to be getting along. The normal alcohol induced fist fights were few. It was a welcome change for all fans.
The Cubs took the opening game of the series on Friday 7-6 despite a rough outing by starting pitcher Travis Wood. Wood threw 66 pitches in the first two innings, making people wonder whether the game was over after the first inning when the Cards scored three runs. The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the second inning with a three run homer by Ryan Sweeney. Luis Valbeuna hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning. Wood helped his cause with his third home run of the season.
All in all, Friday’s game was well played by both teams.
The same could not be said for Saturday’s game, which was played in front of a season record crowd of 41,927. Clearly 50 percent of those in attendance were Cardinals fans. But even with the 2-0 loss, starter Jake Arrieta recorded his ninth consecutive quality start.
But the bigger story of the day was the return to Wrigley Field of A. J. Pierzynski, who was picked up by the Cards after being released by the Boston Red Sox. Pierzynski flew to Chicago from Cooperstown, NY, where he and his family were set to watch friend and former teammate Frank Thomas be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cubs fans have a history of hatred for Pierzynski, going back to his playing time with the Chicago White Sox. Much of it goes back to May 20, 2006, when Pierzynski took exception to the way Cubs catcher Michael Barrett blocked home plate when Pierzynski was making a slide. The fight between the two catchers escalated into a benches clearing brawl.
Pierzynski seemed to relish the boos from Cubs fans, stepping out of the box and almost seeming to egg the fans on, especially during Sunday’s 1-0 loss. One fan was overheard saying he thought Pierzynski was probably the only player who loved being booed by Cubs fans. And the Cubs are not the only team to boo him. He seems to have enemies almost everywhere he has gone.
Pierzynski aside, the Cubs closed the series with a loss Sunday, though Kyle Hendricks gained his second quality start and lowered his ERA from 2.77 to 2.33. Not bad for a 24 year old rookie. Hendricks deserves a lot of credit. The outcome of yesterday’s game could have been much different had Matt Holliday not hit a wind driven home run.
Next up for the Cubs are the Colorado Rockies starting tonight with Yohan Flande starting for the Rockies against the Cubs’ Tsuyoshi. Game time is 7:05.