After dropping an ugly game one yesterday, Michael Wacha got his team back on track tonight at Miller Park. Wacha didn’t have the strikeout pitch tonight, but he mixed his stuff in a way the Brewers couldn’t get anything going. With Alex Reyes looming in the midst of his 2018 debut tomorrow, tonight went as planned.
Zach Davies on the other hand, wasn’t missing many bats tonight, getting ran from the game after pitching 5 innings, giving up 5 runs on 8 hits.
The Cardinals started the onslaught in the top of the 2nd inning. Harrison Bader got the Birds on the board first, drilling a hanging breaking pitch from Davies to the Brewers bullpen in LCF.
It was a towering shot too, reminded me of O’Neill’s bomb to the Cards bullpen at Busch last week. Muñoz kept his bat hot, hitting a single to LF before Davies drilled Wong with a pitch, putting two runners on with no outs. Francisco Peña then dropped a ball into shallow CF, loading the bases for Wacha. Davies would fan Wacha for his third strikeout. Matt Carpenter, who’s career numbers with the bases loaded are ludicrous, walked in a run, scoring Muñoz.
Jedd Trap House opened the game up next, hitting a slow roller up the middle that magically found a hole, scoring Wong and Peña, giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.
Wacha recorded two of his three strikeouts in the bottom of the 2nd, getting Shaw and Pérez swinging, setting the Crew down in order for the second consecutive inning. Wacha got Shaw on an inside changeup and blew away Pérez with a 96 mph fastball on the hands.
The Cardinals wasted a great opportunity to really make this game out of reach in the top of the 3rd. After Ozuna reached on catcher’s interference by Piña, Bader tapped the ball to the right side of a shifted infield, reaching for a single. Muñoz then connected on a deep fly out to Cain and both runners would tag up on the play. With one out and a base open, Counsell elected to intentionally walk Kolten Wong, which worked, but seemed like a head-scratcher to me. Davies recorded his fourth and final strikeout of his night getting Peña before ending the inning on a Wacha, 4-6 fielder’s choice.
Michael Wacha wouldn’t give up a hit until the, should’ve been caught, Pérez single leading off the bottom of the 5th. Wacha wouldn’t record a strikeout in the 3rd or 4th, but worked around a baserunner both innings. Swags Ozuna showed his gold glove defense (which has been shaky) for the first out in the bottom of the 4th, robbing Aguilar of a single after Yelich reached on a Carp error.
Speaking of Carp, leadoff hitter, sorry that’s going to be his nickname in these recaps from here on out, smacked his 7th HR of the season (second in two days) to leadoff the top of the 4th off Davies to RCF. (389 feet, 97 mph off the bat)
With his pitch count nearing 100, Wacha would go back out to the mound for the 7th inning. Ryan Braun opened the inning with a leadoff walk. Kolten Wong got in on the defensive action, making a smooth play to his right, robbing Pérez of an infield single. Manny Piña then hit a ball to Wacha, who would throw it to Gyorko at 3B to try and get Braun going to third.
Braun would be retired on the rundown, 1-5-6-2 on the play, but did his job allowing Piña to get to second. Eric Sogard, who entered the game in the 3rd for the injured Saladino, hit a single the opposite way to LF, but Piña would be held at third.
With Tui warmed and ready to go and Wacha at 102 pitches, Matheny would turn to Tui, who’s been excellent of late.
Tui would face a pinch-hitter, Jonathan Villar, who would win the battle, hitting an RBI double to RF, scoring Piña. Tui buckled down, striking out Lorenzo Cain looking at a 97 mph two-seam fastball, a generous call from home-plate umpire Cory Blaser.
Francisco Peña got in on the HR action with two outs in the top of the 8th. Peña absolutely demolished Dan Jennings, sending the HR to DEEP CF, and I mean deep (430 feet, 108 mph off the bat), extending the Cardinals lead to 6-1.
Jordan Hicks ended the game for the Cardinals, pitching a perfect final two innings. Hicks had that strikeout working tonight, all thanks to that devastating slider. Hicks would pick up 4 strikeouts, 2 in each of his innings. Hicks got Yelich looking at a 101 mph sinker knee-high, down the middle. Then Aguilar got a taste of the slider, and a good dose of it. Hicks got Aguilar reaching for a slider on the outer half, then retired Shaw on a fly ball to Pham.
Hicks started the 9th with his 3rd strikeout, a three pitch strikeout of Braun, finishing him off with the slider. How this one ended was disgusting, in a good way of course. After Pérez flew out to Pham for the second out, Hicks would freeze Piña on a slider to end the game, securing the 6-1 win for the Cardinals. Who was worried about those strikeouts again?
Alex Reyes makes his 2018 season debut tomorrow afternoon, and we all need to take off work to watch it. Call in sick, no call-no show, do whatever you have to do because you won’t want to miss this. Reyes will seek to give the Cardinals a big series win as he faces off against Junior Guerra (3-3, 2.98).
First pitch 12:10 c/t, on Facebook, sigh.
Thanks for reading, cheers!
Game 52 is 'in the books'
by Stew // @StewStilez