CHICAGO – When the ball went off the area around his eye on Thursday, there was concern that the best hitter in the team’s lineup in 2020 could be sidelined for a while.
But on Saturday afternoon, there was Ian Happ back at the top of the Cubs’ lineup to start off a doubleheader. With ten homers coming into the game and a .317/.423/.690 slash line, it was welcome news for a team competing for a National League Central title.
While Happ didn’t disappoint in his return to the lineup, his power wasn’t enough to start the Cubs’ doubleheader with the Cardinals on the right foot Saturday afternoon.
Despite a pair of homers from Happ, the rest of the Cubs’ offense couldn’t match him in a seven-inning contest. His solo shots were the only ones of the game and the Cardinals were able to scratch out a couple more in a 4-2 win in Game 1 at Wrigley Field.
Happ put his season total for homers at 12 on the afternoon, leading off the Cubs’ first frame with a solo shot to right off Adam Wainwright. The center fielder took the pitcher deep again in the fifth inning, this time to left field, to cut the Cardinals deficit to one.
But he’d account for the only runs of the day as the Cubs offense couldn’t only muster those tallies against Wainwright in his 6 1/3 innings. That included leaving the bases loaded with no outs in the second inning and not getting a run.
Giovanny Gallegos ended a seventh-inning threat for the Cubs by striking out Anthony Rizzo to end the game with runners on first and second.
Adbert Alzolay, who was making the spot start, had a few issues with control that finally caught up with him in the third inning. He allowed two singles and three walks, the last of which to Matt Carpenter brought in the second run of the frame and ended Alzolay’s day after 78 pitches.
Alzolay, who was making his second start of the year, walked five batters while striking out four before his early exit. Reliever Ryan Tepera got out of the rest of the third inning clean but allowed two runs in the fourth – a Tommy Edman sacrifice fly to center and a Paul DeJong RBI single – to make it 4-1.