The St. Louis Cardinals started yesterday’s game on the wrong foot, and couldn’t rebound. It was disheartening to watch, because the margin for error is small while the Cardinals haven’t been scoring much. There were a few positives to take from yesterday’s game though.
After 3 first inning errors, leading to 3 Milwaukee Brewers runs, the Redbirds faced a 4-0 deficit. A 4 run margin shouldn’t be impossible to overcome, but the way the Cardinals have been playing of late offensively, it was a tall order Wednesday. Leadoff man Norichika Aoki reached on a throwing error by Rafael Furcal, and following him Nyjer Morgan singled to center. After Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch, in stepped Corey Hart, who delivered a single, scoring 2. Rickie Weeks and Martin Maldonado grounded out and lined out respectively, and it looked like the inning was soon to be over. However, on a Carlos Gomez grounder to Furcal, he airmailed the throw, allowing Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart to score. Jeff Bianchi grounded out to finally end the inning, but the damage was already done. 4 runs, 3 errors, and a very frustrating opening frame.
Adam Wainwright was fantastic though on the day, allowing just 1 earned run over 7 frames, while striking out 9. Trevor Rosenthal was equally impressive, getting out of an 8th inning bases loaded jam, allowing no runs and striking out 2 in an inning of work. Some say that his call-up is because the Cardinals want to showcase his talent as trade bait. I’m hoping those rumors are false, because he could really be just what the doctor ordered in the bullpen. The majority of his pitches were 95 mph+, with a few hitting triple digits.
David Freese had 2 RBI on the day, his first coming from a solo shot in the 2nd inning. Allen Craig, whose RBI per game had cooled a bit, with games now exceeding his RBI total, hit a solo shot himself in the 3rd. With nothing doing for either team until the 9th, I thought the Cardinals just might mount another comeback. Seven hits and 9 walks should have led to more Redbird runs in my mind. As the Cardinals entered the 9th, in came Francisco Rodriguez. John Axford‘s recent struggles in the closer role necessitated the move, but he pitched 1 1/3 solid innings on the day in a non pressure relief role. Rodriguez struck out Skip Schumaker, and in stepped Carlos Beltran in place of Trevor Rosenthal. He hit his 12th double of the season on a line drive to center. Rafael Furcal then walked, and Matt Holliday struck out swinging on a pitch that was about 2 feet from the plate. Allen Craig walked, sending Furcal to 2nd and Beltran to 3rd. David Freese walked, scoring Carlos Beltran. Lance Berkman was up next, and I really thought that he would deliver a clutch hit. However, he hit a harmless fly ball to left fielder Nyjer Morgan, and that was that.
Not enough can be said about Adam Wainwright’s start though. He could have easily crumbled under the weight of 4 first inning runs, but he only got better as the game went on. Certainly, a pitcher can’t win the game on their own, but his start was definitely a bright spot on the day. He had his curveball working well, and his fastball was at its best that I’ve seen all year. He even dialed it up to 93 a few times, which was nice to see, just 16 months after Tommy John surgery.
Though the Cardinals sit 4 1/2 games out of first place, the team is just a few timely hits away from a long winning streak. With a home stretch coming against the very beatable Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, I’m hoping that the Cardinals can make their run now. Following that series, St. Louis travels to Chicago, then Colorado, which wraps around the end of the month to the beginning of August.