Adam Wainwright struck out six batters and tossed six shutout innings as the St. Louis Cardinals blanked the Chicago Cubs 3-0 to raise the curtain on the 2015 Major League Baseball season Sunday night.
St. Louis scored a run in each of their first two innings to start the scoring and provide a cushion for their ace right-hander Wainwright to weave his magic.
“He’s a bully out there. He wants to come at you,” Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward said. “He won’t give in when the batter thinks they’re going to get a good pitch to hit.”
Starting pitcher Wainwright easily outduelled his Cubs’ counterpart, spoiling Jon Lester’s Chicago debut.
The 33-year-old Wainwright scattered five hits for St. Louis, which has won the last two Central Division titles and lost to the San Francisco Giants in last year’s National League championship series.
“I was real impressed with how Wainwright went about his business,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Heyward smacked two doubles among his three hits and scored a run. Matt Holliday tallied a pair of RBI singles, while Trevor Rosenthal picked up the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Like the start of every new season, there is renewed optimism surrounding the Cubs who lost 89 games last season and finished last in their division for the fifth-consecutive year.
Not only did they bolster their pitching staff by adding Lester but they brought in top manager Joe Maddon.
But all-star Lester struggled in his debut for the cursed Cubbies, surrendering three runs on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts over just 4 1/3 innings.
“Not much working tonight,” he said.
Heyward smacked a one-out double in the first inning and Holliday sent him home by driving a base hit to right field.
Kolten Wong worked a one-out walk and Jon Jay singled in the second before Wong came home on Matt Carpenter’s single to right center field.
The Cubs squandered doubles in the first two innings and also in the fifth.
St. Louis pushed across its third run in the top half of the fifth. Three straight singles by Carpenter, Heyward and Holliday made it 3-0.
Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless seventh before Jordan Walden blanked the Cubs in the eighth.