St. Louis Cardinals: Cards lose home opener to Diamondbacks

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 11: Manager Mike Matheny
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 11: Manager Mike Matheny /

Robbie Ray and the Arizona Diamondbacks stifled the St. Louis Cardinals offense and took game one of the three game series.

There is nothing quite like Opening Day at Busch Stadium and St. Louis Cardinals fans. It was also the return of Adam Wainwright to the mound after spending the beginning of the season on the DL due to a hamstring issue. Wainwright convinced manager Mike Matheny to take the mound for yesterday’s game. The stage was set for a Redbird winner, but that didn’t phase the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday as they played spoiler to the party 3-1.

The game was very much a tale of two different pitchers in the beginning of the game.

After a clean first inning from Adam Wainwright, despite a walk, the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher seemed to look strong. His velocity was up, well at least higher than it has been in the last two years, and his curve ball looked sharp. He located his curve ball well too. However, the second inning brought back a familiar feeling from last year.

Wainwright walked former Cardinal Daniel Descalso and proceeded to allow a double to Chris Owings to put runners on first and third with one out. Robbie Ray lifted a fly ball to center fielder Tommy Pham for the sacrifice fly to make the score 1-0. David Peralta then singled home Owings who had tagged up from second to third on Ray’s sacrifice fly.

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While two runs isn’t much, the obviously something different in Wainwright from the first inning to the second inning.

As the second inning progressed, most of the at bats he faced went deep into counts. His command of the fastball was not there.. His curve ball was good enough to get swinging strike, but it wasn’t enough. To top it off, there was also a noticeable difference in Wainwright’s fastball velocity.

The first inning saw his fastball somewhere around 92 MPH, topping around 94 MPH. But the second inning saw that average drop to 90 MPH, and by the third inning Wainwright’s average fastball velocity was around 87-88 MPH. Even Cardinals play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin noted Waino’s dip in velocity.

Wainwright managed to get through the third inning unscathed, but didn’t last much longer. After giving up a lead off single, Wainwright managed to get two outs in the fourth inning. But in stepped Peralta once again to deliver a clutch base hit to score Owings and push the lead to 3-0. An error by shortstop Paul DeJong forced Matheny’s hand and Wainwright’s night was done after 89 pitches in 3.2 innings.

The St. Louis Cardinals offense, absent for practically the entire game, only managed to score a single run off starting pitcher Robbie Ray. In the fourth inning, Yadier Molina doubled to left to score Matt Carpenter. However,  the real issue with the Cardinals’ offense was once again the pile up of strike outs.

The St. Louis Cardinals struck out thirteen times yesterday and left 18 runners on base. Paul DeJong wore the golden sombrero last night after striking out four times and leaving four runners on base, some of them in crucial moments in the game.

Both bullpens for the Cardinals and Diamondbacks were lights out. But the game belonged to Arizona who managed to surrender two hits total to the Cardinals. It was a frustrating game to say the least.

Quick thoughts

  • Most of the talk this morning will probably center around Wainwright’s performance. Just last night reports surfaced that Wainwright was intentionally slowing his speed down to find his command. That sounds as bad as you think it does. If you are still searching for your command, maybe you weren’t ready to pitch this game. But hey, what do I know?
  • Somewhere Jack Flaherty is probably saying, “They sent me down for that?” Wouldn’t blame him either. there is something to be said of sending someone down to make room for a pitcher who struggled with command.
  • The bullpen did a phenomenal job yesterday. It’s not easy to pitch 5.1 innings of scoreless ball with your bullpen. What is note worthy is who Matheny used in the ninth inning to keep the game where it was in the ninth. He used Dominic Leone in the seventh inning this time around and Jordan Hicks in the ninth. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
  • Kolten Wong again draws the short end of the stick. At what point do we continue this revolving door for him? I understand he’s struggled to start the year, but he looked to be seeing the ball better in the final game against with Milwaukee. This short leash Matheny has on Wong is absurd though. Either trade him or let him play.
  • Lastly, once again we saw the St. Louis offense struggle against an above average/good pitcher.  Just something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Next: Martinez shines against Brewers

The St. Louis Cardinals are back in action tomorrow against the Diamondbacks. Michael Wacha will take the hill versus Zach Greinke. The game starts at 1:15 pm CT.