The Easter bunny was not kind to the Brewers on Sunday ignoring their plea for an opening series victory over the rival Cardinals. Rabbits and Cardinals must be close friends in the animal kingdom. The Brewers were the only team in the division to lose on Sunday. Let's see how that came about.
Making only his third Major league Start Lance Lynn dominated the Brewer offense, shutting them down in 6.2 innings of two hit one run ball while racking up eight strikeouts and issuing only a single walk. The Cardinal offense bounced on Brewer starter Randy Wolf early tallying a run in the top of the first. They added two more before Corey Hart homered for the third time in the young season in the fifth to get the Crew on the board. St. Louis ended the game just like they began it, on a strong note, scoring two in the seventh, one in the eighth, and three in the ninth. Ryan Braun hit his first homer of the year in the bottom of the ninth but it was the classic case of too little too late. In a game where positives were few and far between one memorable moment stands out: Norichika Aoki recorded his first Major League hit as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Cincinnati got off to a fast start against Carlos Zambrano and the visiting Marlins scoring three first inning runs off of the new Marlins starter. The middle innings belonged to the Marlins as they took a 5-4 lead into the ninth inning, thanks to a big seventh inning where they put up three runs. New closer for the Marlins, Heath Bell, could not, however, convert the save. The first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth, Jay Bruce, promptly homered to left to tie the game. Following a Miguel Cairo flyout Drew Stubbs and Ryan Hanigan hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. Pinch hitter Scott Rolen hit a ground ball to third and Stubbs came in to score the winning run.
The Pirates and Phillies concluded their exciting series in the same fashion. Both starters, Vance Worley for the Phillies and James McDonald for the Pirates, both went six innings and both pitched well enough to earn the victory. Bunches of late game scoring, however, denied them both of picking up the win with each instead getting a no decision. Heading into the bottom of the ninth tied at four former Brewer Casey McGehee led off the inning with a double. Pinch runner Josh Harrison advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. With one out and the winning run 90 feet away Jose Tabata struck out. He was picked up by Andrew McCutchen who hit a single to center to drive in the game winning run.
In another game that came down to late inning heroics the Astros topped the Rockies to take two-of-three in their opening series. Rockies starter Juan Nicasio went seven strong innings allowing one run on five hits. Not to be outdone Bud Norris also went seven innings. Norris gave up two runs on four hits while striking out eight. Rex Brothers, in relief of Nicasio, could not hold the lead for the Rockies. After retiring the first two batters of the inning Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez hit back-to-back singles. After a visit to the mound, Carlos Lee reached on an error by Third Baseman Jordan Pacheco allowing Altuve to score the tying run. The next batter, Brian Bogusevic, singled to driving in pinch runner Brian Bixler to score what would turn out to be the winning run. Brett Meyers picked up his first save in his new role as Astros closer.
The Cubs avoided the sweep and gave new manager Dale Sveum his first managerial win. After blowing late leads in the first two games of the season Cubs fans could not have felt very at ease going into the bottom of the ninth with another lead. Starter Jeff Samardzija pitched into the ninth allowing only one run. After recording two outs, and needing only one more out for the complete game, Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error by Starlin Castro. Adam LaRoche then hit a Two-Run Home Run to pull the Nationals to within a run. Carlos Marmol was brought in from the bullpen and walked Jayson Werth to bring the winning run to the plate. Xavier Nady popped out to Third to end the game and the Nats' attempt at a third straight come from behind victory. Cubs' fans must agree with whoever said winning isn't easy.
Here are the standings for Monday:
In a battle of NL Central rivals the Cardinals travel to Cincinnati to take on the reds. Jake Westbrook is scheduled to start for the Cards and Homer Bailey will take the hill for the Reds. First pitch at Great American Ballpark is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CDT.
The Pirates have an off day Monday before they begin a 9-game West Coast road trip beginning in Los Angeles with a series against the Dodgers. Kevin Correia is scheduled to start opposite Clayton Kershaw in the opener in Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine. The afternoon first pitch is set for 3:10 p.m. CDT.