Cardinals, Cubs ready for key doubleheader

Sports

The Chicago Cubs will try to expand their National League Central lead against the visiting Cardinals in a doubleheader Saturday.

The Cubs (23-15) lead the division by 4 1/2 games over the Cardinals (14-15) and Milwaukee Brewers (18-19). The Cubs opened this five-game series at Wrigley Field by beating the Cardinals 4-1 Friday night.

The Cardinals will be the home team for the second half of the doubleheader. The Cubs and Cardinals are playing their entire 10-game season series in Chicago this season due to the rescheduling of COVID-19 postponements.

“That’s just one of those deals,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told reporters. “I just look at the games as a game. It’s clearly an anomaly that I’m sure — well, I’m not sure of anything some days. Be careful what you say will never happen again because as soon as you think something won’t happen, it will pop up. So it’s obviously very different.”

With starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood shelved by forearm strain, the Cubs hoped to plug Jose Quintana into his rotation slot. But then Quintana went on the 10-day injured list with a left lat muscle strain.

So Cubs manager David Ross had to improvise. The Cubs promoted top pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to start the first half of the doubleheader. Ross expects to use a series of relievers to get through Game 2.

Alzolay faced the Cardinals on Aug. 19 and held them to one unearned run on two hits in five innings of a doubleheader game. He struck out six batters and walked only one in a 4-2 victory.

“Adbert looked really good. The arm is super quick,” Ross said after that game. “It’s a guy that’s going to pitch big innings for us this season. He’s a huge depth piece that we have, and you see tonight what he’s capable of. I was extremely pleased.”

The Cardinals will start Adam Wainwright (3-0, 2.65 ERA) and Dakota Hudson (1-2, 2.77 ERA). Neither pitcher faced the Cubs earlier this season.

Wainwright threw a complete game in his last start, a 7-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Last season, he was 1-3 with a 5.27 ERA in five starts against the Cubs. He walked 13 batters and allowed five homers in 27 1/3 innings.

He is 16-13 with a 4.15 ERA in 50 career outing against the Cubs, including 41 starts.

Hudson won his last start while allowing just one earned run in seven innings in a 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

In two starts against the Cubs last season, Hudson allowed three runs on nine walks and five hits in eight innings. Hudson has a 2.89 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against them.

The Cubs could get center fielder Ian Happ back in the starting lineup. He was on the bench Friday after suffering a facial contusion the day before on a fluke foul ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“He’s day to day,” Ross said Friday. “I know just, the eye is still coming back. I think it’s going to be fine. It’s just, with everything he’s gone through today, I just don’t think it’s smart to start him.”

The Cardinals added two veterans this series, activating Matt Wieters (toe injury) Friday and reliever Andrew Miller (shoulder fatigue) as the 29th player for the doubleheader.

–Field Level Media

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