The sun was still out when the first pitch was thrown in today’s Cubs-Cardinals Game 3. That’s as it should be. Wrigley Field is all about day baseball, and with a five o’clock start, the skies didn’t begin to darken until the fourth inning.
Right from the get-go, the crowd was sonorous, and without need of “Get loud!” prompting from the video board. A fervent fan base with 100-plus years of woe in their collective conscience doesn’t require help. (Not that kind, anyway.) And kudos to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts for recognizing it. As the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan pointed out, Ricketts has decreed that no such artificial nonsense will besmirch the NL’s oldest venue.
Wrigley roared as one when Kyle Schwarber homered in the second. Two innings later, Starlin Castro equaled the rookie’s feat and the fans roared again. When Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo went back-to-back in the fifth, it was downright deafening.
There was stunned silence in the top of the fourth. Jake Arrieta allowed a pair of runs, and suddenly the Cubs trailed. It seemed almost unfathomable. Their no-nonsense ace hadn’t given up as many as two runs in a single inning since July 30.
It happened again in the sixth, courtesy of a Jason Heyward two-run shot that cut the Cubs lead to 5-4. Three batters later, Arrieta plunked pinch-hitter Brandon Moss with an errant offering.
Prior to the game, I’d asked Maddon about the risk of having “a Grady Little-Pedro Martinez moment” with Arrieta on the mound. His response suggested he might not be immune to replicating the mistake that torpedoed the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS.
“I was not kidding the other day when I said his pitch count was infinity, in Pittsburgh,” answered Maddon. “(There are) indicators to take somebody out of the game, but a guy like him, you want to ride him as long as you possibly can.”
Recognizing indicators that Little didn’t, Maddon marched to the mound with two out and took the ball. For the first time since June 16, Arrieta had failed to go six innings.
It didn’t matter. A quintet of relievers held the lead through the final frames, while the bats continued to thrill the faithful. Jorge Soler hit a two-run shot in the sixth. Dexter Fowler went deep – the Cubs sixth home run of the game – in the eighth.
When the final out was recorded, the score was Cubs 8, Cardinals 6, and it was loud at Wrigley Field. It was very loud.
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.
Most home runs in a post season game in history!!!