We know what Dakota Hudson's sinker can do when it's on. And boy, was it on, and in timely fashion, helping the Cards sneak a 3-1 win from their first Wrigley Field outing of the season.
Hudson's "ground game" was electric Friday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs. He induced 15 outs on 13 grounders, three of the four hits he surrendered were either wormburners or bouncers.
The only run the Cubs managed was a Kyle Schwarber home run in the fourth inning, and it temporarily put the home team ahead before the Cards retaliated.
In fact, all the runs came in back-to-back half innings, with the Redbirds plating three in the top of the fifth.
Yadier Molina led off with a walk, and Paul DeJong singled him to second. Tyler O'Neill, sliding to right field to give Dexter Fowler a rest, advanced the runners with a grounder to the right side.
After Kolten Wong walked, Harrison Bader pounded an opposite field double to the wall of the right-center field fence, clearing the bases.
It was otherwise a good outing by Yu Darvish, who despite a tepid 6-8 record, pitched well in 2019 other than giving up a ton of homers. He finished the fifth and added another frame before giving away to former Cards farmhand Rowan Wick.
"We didn't do much in the rest of the game," said Wong. "But we did in that inning. That's baseball, I guess, you find a seam of opportunity and you grab it. We did, and Dakota was like, wow."
He was, indeed. Hudson lasted six and a third, coming out of the game with two on and two out from a walk and a single. But Giovanny Gallegos stranded the runners by nabbing an outside corner called third strike from Javier Baez, who was none too happy about the call, and was ejected for saying so.
Gallegos took the seventh as well, and uneventfully, before John Brebbia and Ryan Helsley retired six of eight batters to end the game.
"When Hudson is down and stays down, just kinda forget it," said pitching coach Mike Maddux. "He was sensational, and to get that kind of performance in Wrigley is a huge plus, especially if there's a bit of breeze like today."
The Cards upped their record to 9-5, and by and large continue to get very strong starting pitching, even without the injured Miles Mikolas. And the bullpen has been even stronger to date.
"We've all felt our oats early on," said Brebbia. "The two Mikes (Shildt and Maddux) have talked to us regularly, chosen well, and we've delivered so far. It's fun to come out of the box well, but hey, it's a long season."
Next Up and Notes: The debut for Dylan Carlson in Wrigley was fun for the young outfielder. "Everyone wants to play at his place, it's living baseball history. Those covered walls, even the changes with the scoreboard and stuff. They did the updates well. It was a thrill."
The Cubs have scuffled to a 7-8 mark so far, and their offense has been week, with only 44 runs in those 15 games. That's been frustrating for new manager David Ross.
"We haven't kicked it into gear yet," said Ross. "You've seen it. I've seen it. Shoot, I played alongside these guys. They'll get it going. It's tough when you start slow. At least the pitching has been pretty good."
Saturday afternoon brings Carlos Martinez to the mound to face Kyle Hendricks, who seems particularly tough in Wrigley against, well, against everyone. He holds a 2.61 home ERA over his six-season career at Wrigley.