LIVE on ESPN: 2023 London Series Game 2

June 25th, 2023

LONDON -- As the Cubs and Cardinals lined up for pregame introductions on Saturday, pyrotechnics shot flames into the air behind home plate. Fans filed into London Stadium and saw a spectacle, while being introduced to one of sport’s oldest rivalries.

And there is still one game to go.

“You want to be in those moments that give you chills, give you butterflies, make you nervous,” Cubs starter said. “Because that usually means it's a big moment.”

Following the Cubs’ 9-1 win over the Cardinals in the opener of the London Series, Stroman took the mound as one of baseball’s top pitchers this season. He has won each of his last seven starts, lowering his ERA to a National League-leading 2.28 going into the outing.

The Cardinals went with , who replaced planned starter Jack Flaherty, scratched for hip discomfort. Liberatore is 1-2 with a 6.12 ERA in six games, five of them starts, in 2023.

Stroman has pitched in the World Baseball Classic -- once for the United States and then for Puerto Rico this past spring -- and used to suit up for Toronto. He was ready to embrace his latest international moment with the Cubs.

“I hope to play in more international games, to be honest with you,” he said. “I think it's important for the game of baseball. And I think there's no more fun experience. It just takes us out of our element that we're used to and puts us into a whole different culture.”

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said it’s important for the players to get the most out of this trip.

“You want to take it all in and make sure that you enjoy it as much as you can,” Marmol said. “Once we get to the stadium, it’s all business. But on a trip like this, you’ve got to be able to step aside and enjoy being here and the culture, and make sure you get a taste of what it’s all like.”

Here’s an FAQ primer about Game 2 between the Cards and Cubs:

What is the London Series?

The 2023 London Series is part of the MLB World Tour, a historic slate of games that will bring MLB teams and players to the league’s global fan base. The tour features planned regular-season and exhibition games to be played in Asia, Europe, Mexico and Latin America through the 2026 season.

When are the games and how can I watch them?

Game 2 is LIVE on ESPN.

What’s the history of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park?

The park is a sporting complex that was built for the 2012 Summer Olympics. That includes what is now known as London Stadium, a multi-use facility that was configured to host the baseball games. London Stadium is currently the home of West Ham United FC of England’s Premier League.

What are the outfield dimensions?

It’ll be a little harder to hit a home run in this London Series than it was when the Red Sox and Yankees combined for 10 homers in two games back in 2019. While it will remain 330 feet from home plate to the outfield wall down the lines, the distances to the alleys (from 382 feet to 387 feet) and center (385 feet to 392 feet) have increased.

What should I know about London?

London is one of the top tourist cities in the world for a reason. It is filled with fascinating history and beautiful views. You can be sure there will be Cubs and Cardinals fans all weekend in town to check out the London Eye, the London Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, among other famous sites.

What’s the history of MLB games in London?

The Yankees and Red Sox played in the first London Series games in 2019. The teams combined for 50 runs and 65 hits with New York winning both games. The Cubs and Cardinals were originally slated to return in 2020 before the pandemic delayed the continuation of the series.

Baseball has been played in London at multiple points in history, but the London Series marked the first regular-season games. Prior to 2019, the last Major Leaguers to play an exhibition game in London were from the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox (1914), Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) and an assortment of players from other clubs (1889) and the Boston Red Stockings and Philadelphia Athletics (1874).

Have the Cubs and/or Cardinals participated in any other international games?

The Cubs faced the Mets at the Tokyo Dome in MLB’s first Opening Day overseas on March 29, 2000, and Chicago picked up a 5-3 win in front of 55,000-plus fans in Japan. New York won the second game, 5-1, in 11 innings on March 30.

The Cardinals and Reds squared off at Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey, Mexico, on April 13-14, 2019. Wainwright carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the opener, but the Reds won, 5-2. St. Louis won the second game, 9-5.

Who are the likely starters?

Jack Flaherty was scheduled to start Sunday for the Cardinals but has been scratched due to right hip tightness. St. Louis will likely opt for a bullpen game instead.

Marcus Stroman, the NL leader in ERA and winner of seven straight decisions, got the call in Sunday’s finale on regular rest.

Who is the home team?

The Cardinals will serve as the “home” team at London Stadium. St. Louis won two out of three games in its first meeting at Wrigley Field in Chicago in May. Following the London Series, the teams will meet up again in Chicago on July 21-23 and then at Busch Stadium in St. Louis from July 27-30.

What community events are planned in conjunction with the trip?

As part of the London Series, MLB is hosting a three-day “Trafalgar Square Takeover” fan fest, which is free to attend. There will be food, music and merchandise in the iconic location, which will also feature “Home Run Derby X: The Cage” to give fans a chance to test their skills.

Is there anything else fans should know?

  • became the first player in MLB history to play a regular-season game in five countries, per research spearheaded by the Cardinals. By this weekend, Goldschmidt will have played in England, Australia, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. while with the D-backs and Cardinals. Sixteen MLB players have played in four countries. Four NBA players and 15 NHL players have competed in regular-season games in five different countries, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
  • Chicago’s played in the inaugural London Series in 2019 for the Yankees, but he only took two pinch-hit at-bats. He’s set himself up for much more playing time in this edition, as he’s hit .333 in his past 10 games leading into the series and worked his way into the leadoff spot.