America’s favourite pastime becomes Britain’s favourite pastime for the weekend as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals descend on the English capital for a series of two games at London Stadium.
All of the glitz, glamour, pomp and circumstance of the Major League Baseball regular season made its way across the Atlantic, this Saturday, where a packed crowd of 54,662 gathered to witness the Chicago Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-1. The Cubs came into this series 36-38, and the Cardinals 31-34.
This is not the first time that a Major League Baseball game has been played in London. The London Series began in 2019, where the New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox across two games. A return to London was planned for 2020 but was interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With MLB returning for these games in 2023, it was also announced today that the New York Mets and Philladephia Phillies will play in the 2024 series, June 8th and 9th.
Major League Baseball are also planning further development of the game outside of the United States. It was also announced this weekend that Major League Baseball are eyeing further European games with an eye on Paris for a 2025 French debut.
We are in the process of working on Paris in 2025. We’re not at the point where we’re going to make a commitment or a more formal announcement, but it is in the planning stages.MLB commissioner Rob Manfred
Cubs Dominate Early
With Adam Wainwright opening the game at pitcher for the Cardinals, ‘Uncle Charlie’ led a routing of the Cubs first three at bat. On the Cubs side, Justin Steele pitched well to close out the first inning, striking out the first two Cards batters in short order. Nolan Arenado was able to get a hit in but the ball was caught in the outfield.
The second inning started fast and hard for the Chicago Cubs with Ian Happ kicking off proceedings with a home run. With two Cubs on bases heading into the middle of the second, a Nick Madrigal hit allowed Christopher Morel to get home and give Chicago a 2-0 lead. As Steele returned to the mound for Chicago, his performance was less convincing than in the 1st but he led the elimination of three more batters to maintain his team’s lead going into the 3rd.
Happ was back at bat at the top of the third inning. Wainwright tried to switch up his pitching to avoid a repeat of the second inning but Happ hit another homer off a curveball to bring the Cubs to a 3-0 lead. Seemingly unstoppable already, the Cubs occupied first and third base again, as they did in the second, and Morel returned the favour he was granted with a hit that sent Dansby Swanson home. Cody Bellinger was also able to get home to take the score to 5-0 from a single off the bat of Yan Gomes. To close out the third inning, Steele struck out Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman, and the Cubs grounded out Brendan Donovan.
Cardinals Dropping Heads
Kicking off a frantic fourth inning, Nick Madrigal hit a double after Dylan Carlson missed the opportunity to catch him out. On the next at bat, Mike Tauchman also doubled the ball to the left and gave the English crowd a souvenir ball to fight over as it bounced gently over the barrier. Off the back of this action, Madrigal got home to give the Cubs their sixth run of the day.
To try and inspire some kind of change in the Cards’ fortunes, head coach Oliver Marmol subbed in Steven Matz at pitcher. Matz got a quick out but Tauchman made his way to third base. Seiya Suzuki was able to send the ball far enough on a hit for Tauchman to scrape his way home, barely.
In the bottom of the 4th and the score 7-0 against the designated home team, the heads of Cardinals players began to drop in the dugout. Just as it seemed St. Louis may get a glimmer of hope from the deep driving hits of Nolan Arenado and Wilson Contreras, they were flied out just barely in front of the excited British crowd.
At the bottom of the 5th, the Cardinals finally got a man on base after Jordan Walker hit a single. Shortly thereafter, Lars Nootbaar was caught out on an incredible catch by Madrigal. Interest piqued once again for St. Louis, after DeJong doubled right and sent Walker to third base, but it was all for nothing after Donovan lined out to the left, ending the inning.
Cards Try To Salvage Something
Getting the 6th underway, left handed pitcher, Matz, was determined to bring Happ’s good day to an abrupt end and the Cardinals were able to successfully ground him out. St. Louis carried this momentum into scoring their first point of the game, kicking off the bottom of the sixth inning by sending Edman home after hitting a double and taking advantage of a single hit from Paul Goldschmidt. This was their only achievement in the 6th, though, as Contreras, Walker and Carlson were all struck out in quick succession.
Jake Woodford came in for Matz in the seventh inning, closely followed by the Cubs first replacement pitching in Julian Merryweather. At the bottom of the 7th, this is where the game really came to an end with Chicago executing a beautiful double play to out Edman and Donovan. The final nail in the coffin came at the top of the 9th with the Chicago Cubs tacking on two more to their score after Swanson hit a home run and Hoerner led the way with a score from third base.
In tomorrow’s game, the Chicago Cubs will attempt to get back to .500 while sweeping the series. Game 2’s first pitch will be at 15:10 BST / 10:10 ET, broadcast on BT Sport in the UK and ESPN in the United States.
Did you enjoy the first game in the 2023 London Series? Come back tomorrow for a recap of the second and final game in the series from London!