In the series finale, the Cincinnati Reds used two homers hit off Adam Wainwright in a three-run fourth inning to help beat the Cardinals 6-3.
Wainwright was coming off one of the worst outings in his career, so there was a lot of hope that he would be able to turn things around. Unfortunately the results were not completely there. They were better, but not nearly what has come to be expected of Wainwright. There in lies the issue. Wainwright has spoiled Cardinals fans, but more on that in My Two Cents later in the column.
Wainwright cruised through the first three innings trading zeroes with Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. But, in the fourth Wainwright allowed a solo homer to Brandon Phillips and then a two-run shot to former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick. Wainwright ended up with four earned runs in five innings. He scattered seven hits and walked one.
Arroyo on the other hand was baffling the Cardinals’ batters for most of his eight innings. He did allow a three-run homer to Matt Holliday, but he actually pitched better than the three earned runs indicate. He allowed only five hits total without walking a batter and added five strikeouts.
The Cardinals would not get any closer. The Reds tacked on two more runs before the game was over. Sean Marshall pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save of the season.
BERKMAN TO DL, SCHUMAKER BACK AND JAY INJURED
Lance Berkman will indeed swap places with Skip Schumaker officially before today’s game with the Pittsburgh Pirates according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Jon Jay, who made a running grab in the seventh inning of yesterday’s game, wound up with his arm in a sling. For now he is considered day-to-day.
Lance Lynn is set to make his third start of the season tonight in Pittsburgh against Charlie Morton. The Cardinals enter the weekend series with a 9-4 record and a three game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates are 5-7 and sit 3.5 games back of the Redbirds.
Q&A WITH RUM BUNTER
The gang over at Rum Bunter, FanSided’s Pirates’ site, was kind enough to answer some questions about the Pirates prior to the series set to start today. I was in turn asked some questions about the Cards and you can read that here.
1. Tell us about the Pirates rotation scheduled for the series.
Charlie Morton will open the series. We will be holding our breath as managers have found a weakness in the arsenal of the right-hander. Left handed batters feast on his electric stuff. We would guess every possible left handed batter the Cards have on the roster will be in the lineup. Morton had offseason surgery on his hip and got off to a late start. Although he hasn’t had much success against St. Louis, Morton’s pitches showed serious movement his first time out and if he can harness them, it could be a breakout year for Morton.
Kevin Correia is slated to pitch Saturday night. Correia was thought to be the odd man out when the Bucs signed A.J. Burnett. The right-hander is proving that he is anything but ready for a long man bullpen role. However, both of his starts happened on the road where Correia pitches so much better than at PNC Park. We have no idea how that happens when PNC Park is rather neutral, but if you look at the numbers, they’re scary. Saturday night tilts in the favor of St. Louis even though the Cards have the Pirates favorite pitcher on the mound in Jake Westbrook.
If Mother Nature doesn’t ruin it, Sunday shapes up to be the pitching duel of the series. Erik Bedard goes for the Bucs. He fought through not having his best stuff in his last start, but Bedard has been a strong starter for the Pirates. He has shown life on his fastball and his curveball is still the nastiest thing since Bud Light Platinum.
2. With Andrew McCutchen signed is there a player we should be paying attention to on the Bucs roster or in the minors who will make an immediate impact this season?
We think the biggest opportunity for a Mr. Right Now would be Erik Bedard. Pedro Alvarez should be that guy, but he is focused on hitting long balls right now. The longshot for a young player to have an impact would be Starling Marte. He is a talented outfielder who is off to a solid start in his first season in AAA.
3. Speaking of Pedro Alvarez, just how long is his leash?
Leash? El Toro is a bull. A leash won’t hold him. He hits a homer every 13 at-bats. He has more homers than Pujols. I would suggest you mention those facts to your new skipper.
4. The Pirates pitching staff has been very good to this point. Do you think they can maintain this long enough for the offense to catch up and string together some wins?
Absolutely. No, just kidding. The rotation has shown the ability to carry this team at various points in the past twelve months. The big question is can it be sustained for a full season? We have to say we don’t think so. Jeff Karstens is already on the DL and we think Morton might be pushing his luck coming back so quickly. James McDonald is a roller coaster. McDonald and Morton will provide the answer to your question–we havent seen enough of how Morton will recover from his surgery to provide an educated answer. If you had a gun to our head, we would guess the answer is less than fifty percent.
5. Do you expect the Pirates to break the .500 barrier this season?
As much as the city of Pittsburgh would rejoice in breaking the streak, I can’t see it unless a trade or two is made for some young bats. The lineup has some serious out makers and twitter discussion is now being based around developing a game day drinking game based on the out machines in the six, seven, and eight spots in the Pirates batting order. Please excuse me I am still catching up from Monday’s game. Hiccup.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, there are some very greedy Cardinals fans out there. Everyone likes a series sweep, but to be angry over the fact the Redbirds have yet to complete one is absurd. The team is 9-4 and they’ve won each series so far this season. Three of those series have come against teams perceived to be their stiffest competition for the NL Central crown. Despite this there were plenty of fans on Twitter yesterday voicing displeasure, not disappointment, with the loss.
Look, the Cardinals will get their share of series sweeps over the course of the season and by the way, they may even get swept at one point. You want to be upset that would be the time to start wallowing.
Another thing is the assumption that Adam Wainwright was going to be their savior this season. The surgery he is coming off of, while refined and now standard, still has a recovery time of 12-18 months. Wainwright busted his butt to get back in 12 months. He should be allowed a couple months to completely get the feel for being back on the mound. The notion that he was going to come out, win 20 games and throw 220 innings is ludacrous.
Wainwright was a dominant pitcher for two full seasons prior to his injury. There is no reason why he cannot get himself back to that level of play. It is just going to take some time. He may not be completely himself until next season or very late in this season.
Cardinals fans have been spoiled by him and by last year’s team. Take joy in what you have and be happy that Wainwright is on the mound and that the team is winning series.
Topics: A.J. Burnett, Adam Wainwright, Andrew McCutchen, Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Erik Bedard, Jake Westbrook, Kevin Correia, Lance Berkman, Lance Lynn, Matt Holliday, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rum Bunter, Ryan Ludwick, Sean Marshall, Skip Schumaker, St Louis Cardinals