Bats Heat Up Despite Coldest Game In Busch Stadium History
36°F at first pitch with a windchill under 30°F didn’t stop the Cardinals bats from going to work on Zack Greinke today. Michael Wacha would toe the rubber for his second start of the season, with a tough task at hand. Wacha wasn’t getting any help from home plate umpire, Mike Winters either. Wacha was trying to figure out the zone in the 1st inning, walking 3 batters, allowing one run, while stranding the bases loaded. After walking Descalso to load the bases, Wacha stuck out Owings and followed that forcing Dyson to roll over a pitch on a groundout to first baseman Jose Martínez.
The Cardinals answered back in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1. A 2-out rally so to speak. After Greinke retired Fowler and Pham, Carpenter poked a ball into shallow LCF to begin a string of back-to-back singles for the Cardinals. Ozuna followed with the first of his 3 singles and Jose “Cafecíto” Martínez then would drill a rocket right back up the middle to score Carpenter.
Michael Wacha then started to settle in slowly, working a clean 2nd inning striking out Mathis and Peralta. The 3rd inning Wacha opened up the frame striking Goldschmidt out looking. Owings would later hit an RBI single scoring Pollock who previously doubled off Wacha. It looked as if Wacha wanted to go after Owings with 2 outs and the, then, leading run in scoring position. Instead of going after Dyson (who is 0-6, with 2 strikeouts, and 2 walks in the series).
But the Cardinals bats would answer back, striking for a 4-run inning. Dexter Fowler led the inning off lining a double into RCF. Tommy Pham followed with a single, which Fowler had to make sure dropped before advancing, to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Matt Carpenter would then get his turn, hitting a liner to RF for a sac-fly to tie the game at 2. Ozuna kept his career batting line against Greinke rolling today, as he followed with another single up the middle to bring up Jose Martínez. Cafecíto would deliver the nail in the coffin rather early, a 3-run bombski. On a 0-2 pitch, he got a fastball up in the zone and knew exactly what to do with it. He connected on the pitch (107mph off the bat) for his 2nd HR of the season while bringing his RBI total to 8. The Cardinals 4-6 hitters combined to go (7-12) today, accounting for all of the teams hits but three.
Bullpen Continues To Shine:
It seems like this has become a routine these past couple of games. The Cardinals bullpen would have to account for 4 innings, which they did masterfully. Leone was the first to get his shot in the 6th inning, striking out two. (Owings & Mathis)
Matt Bowman would then make his, already, fifth appearance of the season. Bowman sure looked sharp today, I honestly think he looks like a different reliever since his Opening Day appearance in NY. Bowman too, would record two strikeouts in the 7th, nailing newly entered Nick Ahmed and ending the inning on Marte looking.
Jordan Hicks was called upon to work the 8th which stared with a fielding error at the hot corner from Carpenter. Mike Winters wasn't doing Hicks many favors, either. Hicks followed the error walking Pollock to force his first appearance facing two runners on base, he didn’t let it phase him. Descalso would line out to Fowler advancing Goldschmidt to third base. Owings then hit a weak ground ball to DeJong that would score Goldschmidt to make it 5-3 Cardinals. Hicks threw the most pitches he has in relief so far (19) and still escaped the D-backs threat.
So, if Hicks threw the 8th who would have the 9th for the save opportunity? You guessed it, Bud Norris. Norris looks to be the teams interim CP until Greg Holland is ready to go, hopefully on Monday when the Brewers come to town. Norris has been quite the hidden gem so far (4 IP, 0 runs, 7 strikeouts) for the bullpen. Today was no exception, Norris would close the door, earning his first save, striking out the side (Ahmed, Peralta, Goldschmidt) for the Cardinals 5-3 victory. The last strikeout of the game on Goldschmidt, looking, and that’s a beautiful sight.
Luke Weaver (1-0, 1.80) will face-off against hard throwing right-hander, Taijuan Walker (0-0, 5.40) tomorrow afternoon in the rubber game of the series.
Thanks for reading, cheers!!
Stew // @StewStilez