Six, as every St. Louis Cardinals fan knows, is a serious number. (How about that nice plug for Mobil’s On the Run?)
Also serious, though it has nothing to do with the number six: the Cardinals 20-11 record. It’s the best in the National League, and is tied with the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers (hello, Lance Berkman!) for tops in the majors. The Cards 2 1/2 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds is currently the biggest lead in any division also, tying them with the Rangers and their lead over the Oakland A’s.
But back to Sunday. You know it’s a successful day when it’s a challenge to even figure out what the “good, better and best” of the game would be.
How’s this for good — and it’s another six as well? A six-run second inning got the Cardinals scoring under way. A one-out walk to Daniel Descalso put him on base, while a Pete Kozma single and Jon Jay hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with two outs. (Jaime Garcia fouled out trying to sacrifice the runners up.) Marco Estrada was a little wild, to say the least — back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Shane Robinson and Matt Holliday gave the Cards their first two runs. Then Allen Craig kicked off his big day with a hit that was just fair down the left field line that cleared the bases. Yadier Molina drove him home with a single before David Freese came up for the second time in the inning — and earned the distinction of making the first and last outs.
Seeing is always better, though, right? Here’s a look at all six runs scoring, along with a nice look at the 1913 throwback uniforms both teams were wearing. And for once it really was a High Sock Sunday for nearly everyone!
An exception to the high socks: Jaime Garcia. However, since he allowed only one run and pitched eight innings on the road he gets a break for that. He allowed eight hits, struck out three and earned his fourth win of the season — three of which came on the road. (So did his only loss, for all of you who want to continue to make Jaime-on-the-road-is-automatically-bad a thing.)
The rest of the Cardinals runs all scored in even-numbered innings only. The fourth inning brought a Holliday two-run home run that was almost as impressive as Friday night’s blast off the Miller Park scoreboard.
The sixth inning brought a first-ever occurrence: an Allen Craig triple, as the ball got past Norichika Aoki and went into the right field corner.
In the eighth, it was Tony Cruz getting the action — which was notable since he actually got into a game, pinch-hitting for Yadi. Cruz hit a bases-loaded single to score Jon Jay with the Cards 10th run. (Yadi was getting a rest after Alfredo Figaro caused the hearts of every Cardinals fan to stop when he hit him on the left hand with a pitch in the sixth inning.)
Hey, speaking of Jay, remember when he was struggling at the plate? Yeah, that’s over. He raised his average from .204 after Wednesday’s game to .252 now thanks to two hits each in all four games against the Brewers. And speaking of four, that’s the number of runs he drove in on Saturday — things got a little better for all the other writers of the UCB progressive game blog after the first inning I covered.
The final highlight of Sunday was the performance of Carlos Martinez in the bottom of the ninth — it was sizzling, to steal a description from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Here’s what Derrick Goold wrote:
The 21-year-old righty pitched a perfect ninth in relief of Jaime Garcia, and nine of his 17 pitches were clocked at 98 mph or faster.
According to Major League Baseball’s pitch f/x technology, Martinez’s fastball hit 99 mph five times — and all five were strikes.
He got his first big-league strikeout when he fired a 99 mph fastball past Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez for the second out.
“Ninety-nine is good, I’d say,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He brings some enthusiasm out there. He’s got stuff, too.”
Uh, Mike? Saying “he’s got stuff” might just be an understatement.
The Cardinals enjoy an off day in Chicago before taking on the Cubs in a two-game series Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. We’ll see if this serious streak can continue …
Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.