St. Louis Cardinals: Wacha settles in, clutch hits get win

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 7: Jose Martinez
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 7: Jose Martinez /

After a near first inning disaster, St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha battened down the hatches and the offense did the rest.

After a tough opening night loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, it was up to Michael Wacha to set the tone early for a St. Louis Cardinals victory Saturday afternoon. However, Wacha had a shaky first inning, something Cardinals pitchers have been known for this season. Wacha walked three Diamondbacks including the lead off hitter in David Peralta.

Peralta would score on an A.J. Pollock single which prompted a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux. Whatever Maddux said calmed Wacha down as he got the next two batters out on a strikeout and ground out.

The name of the game for the Cardinals yesterday afternoon was two out and two strike hitting, as was the case in the bottom half of the first inning.  The team had three straight two out singles that led to a run. Jose Martinez got the third single which would be the beginning of a terrific game for the first baseman.

In the next half inning Wacha would once again have a shaky start as he walked his opposite number in Zack Greinke and followed it up with a balk.

But once again Wacha would settle down, setting the next two batters down via a strikeout and ground out just like he ended his previous inning.

Action picked up in the third inning with the Diamondbacks reclaiming the lead thanks to a Chris Owings single that should have been caught by Marcell Ozuna in left field.

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The Cardinals would take back the lead and the some in the bottom half.

A five hit, four run third was capped off by a Jose Martinez three run homer to left center due to Greinke leaving a fastball up and over the plate. Then bats went about as cold as the weather at Busch Stadium with only two combined hits, one by each team, over the next four innings.

Flamethrower Jordan Hicks would come on in the eighth inning, but the first batter in the struggling Paul Goldschmidt reached base after Matt Carpenter bobbled the ball at the hot corner.

Pollock would draw a walk to follow suit and former Cardinal Daniel Descalso nearly came through for the opposition but thankfully his line drive was hit right at Dexter Fowler in right.

Descalso would advance both runners which allowed for Owings to get an RBI ground out, but that was all the Diamondbacks would get in the top half of the eighth.

Ozuna would lead off the bottom half of the eighth with a single to center, but nothing came of it as Paul DeJong would strikeout for his third time (seventh in eight at-bats in this series) to end the inning.

Mike Matheny would call upon Bud Norris to try to get the first save of the season for the Cardinals. Despite a Ketel Marte two out double, Norris looked terrific as he struck out the side to close the books on a Cardinals victory.

Three Stars of the Game

Third Star: RP Bud Norris (IP, H, 3 K, SV)

Norris was all business this afternoon and did not let a two out double get to him. Striking out Paul Goldschmidt in a clutch situation should boost his stock in the hearts of Cardinal Nation as well as Mike Matheny. Striking out the side does not hurt either.

Second Star: SP Michael Wacha (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K)

When you look at Wacha’s stat line, it does seem too impressive. When you take into account the jams he got out of, it makes you appreciate his start a lot more. Wacha could have easily last three innings, but he limited the damage in the first and stranded Greinke on second with one out in the second. Hopefully Wacha can find the plate more, but he turned in a nice outing today.

First Star: 1B Jose Martinez (2-4, R, 4 RBI, HR)

Martinez has been the backbone of the Cardinals offensively thus far. The top half of the lineup was able to get on base and Martinez drove them in. With Martinez being hitting machine, if Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter continue to not get it done in the lead off and three-hole respectively, perhaps Martinez will get a look in the top half of the order.

Next: Early recommended changes to continue winning

Cardinals play the Diamondbacks today at 1:15pm CT for the third and final game of the series. Pitching matchup will be Taijuan Walker (0-0, 5.40) versus Luke Weaver (1-0, 1.80)