The St. Louis Cardinals won both games of the day/night doubleheader against the Blue Jays Thursday. They’ve now won eight of their last ten games, and are up to .500 on the season with an 11-11 record.
The St. Louis Cardinals are suddenly among the hotter teams in the league. They’ve won three consecutive series after dropping the first four, and they stand just a game and a half behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central.
Starting pitchers Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright each turned in adequate starts. The bullpen allowed only one run in 7 2/3 innings. Trevor Rosenthal picked up his second save of the season in the nightcap.
The offense, led by Randal Grichuk, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, and Matt Adams, did enough damage in the final five innings of game one and the first four innings of game two to secure the two victories.
Here’s a closer look at the individuals who stood out Thursday at Busch Stadium:
Game 1: Cardinals 8, Blue Jays 4 (11 innings)
Martinez improved upon his previous three starts, holding the Jays to one run on a Russell Martin solo home run through the first five innings. In the sixth, however, he allowed two more runs to cross the plate after walking the bases loaded and allowing a two-run single.
The offense’s comeback let Martinez off the hook for what would have been his fourth loss of the year. He remains 0-3 and his ERA stands at 4.71 after five starts this season. He struck out eight and has now fanned thirty-nine batters in 28 2/3 innings.
His six-inning outing was the deepest he’s pitched in a game since Opening Night when he pitched into the eighth inning. Overall, he commanded his pitches better; he didn’t allow a free pass until walking three in the sixth.
Martinez’ next start may be pushed back from when it was originally scheduled because of the rainout Tuesday night. Rain is in the forecast this weekend when the Cardinals host the Reds, so Martinez may make his next start as scheduled, anyways.
Grichuk entered the game in right field when Tyler Lyons replaced Martinez on the mound in the seventh inning. He immediately made his presence felt at the plate, driving in the first run of the game for the Cardinals with a single in the bottom half of the inning. He was thrown out trying to advance to second base on the single, however, as the Cardinals continued to make blunders on the base paths.
In the bottom of the ninth, with two out and Yadier Molina on second base after a lead-off double, Grichuk tied the game with a blast to center-field, his third home run of the year, sending the game to extra innings. It came against Toronto closer Roberto Osuna, who also blew a save opportunity on Monday night in the first game of the series.
In the eleventh inning, Grichuk was intentionally walked and scored on Matt Carpenter‘s walk off grand slam. He raised his season batting average to .250 after the first game.
Wong was the main culprit on the base paths this time around. He was picked off of second base after wandering too far away from the base on a missed bunt attempt by Martinez. Wong also committed an error in the field, his fourth of the season.
At the plate, he reached base three times, which included his fifth double of the season to lead the team, and the eleventh-inning triple that sparked the game-winning rally. The triple was Wong’s second of the season, and he already has eight extra-base hits to begin the year.
Carpenter entered the game without a single hit with a runner in scoring position to begin the season. In the bottom of the eighth, he drove in Dexter Fowler from third base to cut the Jays’ lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the eleventh, the day’s signature moment arrived. On a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and one out, Carpenter crushed a hanging curveball from Toronto lefty J.P. Howell deep beyond the right field bullpen to complete the Cardinals’ comeback.
The blast was the second walk-off home run of Carpenter’s career. For the game, he drove in five of the St. Louis Cardinals’ eight runs (Grichuk knocked in the other three).
Game 2: Cardinals 6, Blue Jays 4
Wainwright picked up his second consecutive victory while pitching into the seventh inning, the longest he’s gone in a game so far this year. His efficiency improved marginally: he threw 105 pitches in 6 1/3 innings. He allowed nine hits, one of them being a three-run home run off the bat of Kendrys Morales. The blast accounted for all but one of the runs Wainwright surrendered.
The performance was an improvement on his first four starts, but Wainwright will be the first to tell you he’s still looking for better results. His offense picked him up early, spotting him a 6-0 lead after four innings.
You can officially put Fowler on the list of players who is beginning to heat up. He started both games in center field, and finished the day 5-for-9. In the nightcap, he hit his third home run of the season. He also ran the bases well, going first to third base on a couple of base hits, and walked twice.
Fowler paced an offense that put up fourteen runs between the two games. As Fowler goes, the St. Louis Cardinals go, right? The St. Louis offense has tallied at least eleven hits in six of the last seven games.
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Adams drew a start in game two at first base, bumping Matt Carpenter over to third base. He went 3-for-3 with two doubles. His two-bagger in the first drove home a run to cap the Cardinals’ three-run first inning.
In the third inning, Adams executed the hit-and-run with a single to left field, scoring Stephen Piscotty from second base. His two runs batted in doubled his output for the season.
All three of Adams’ hits went to the opposite field. He was lifted in the sixth inning for pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko with a lefty on the mound. Nevertheless, it was good to see Adams contribute to the St. Louis Cardinals’ win given his early-season struggles.
With closer Seung-Hwan Oh unavailable for a second consecutive night, Rosenthal stepped up in the ninth inning to finish off the doubleheader sweep. He hurled an effortless 1-2-3 inning for his second save of the year.
He struck out the first two batters of the inning and induced a ground ball to third for the final out of the night. His fastball reached 102 miles per hour, and his high-80s slider danced in and out of the strike zone.
Rosenthal was dominant Thursday night. His early-season performance should give manager Mike Matheny even more confidence to use him in late-inning scenarios as the season bears on.
Up next for the St. Louis Cardinals this homestand is a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds took two-of-three against the Cardinals in St. Louis earlier this month. The homestand concludes with a four game series beginning next Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers. The St. Louis Cardinals recently won three-of-four in Milwaukee against the Brewers.