Cardinals Homers, Hitting Streaks And Shaky Relievers – Oh My!

Here’s a quick review: games with 8-run innings and 5 homers, including one by the pitcher – good.

Extending hitting streaks to 16, 15 and 10 games — also good.

Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Six innings with 9 strikeouts from the starting pitcher and maintaining the National League ERA lead at 1.91 — obviously good as well.

A 12-2 lead — very good.

Getting rookie pitchers a chance to gain some experience — yes, that is good.

Having to bring your closer into a game because the score becomes 12-7, the bases are loaded, it’s now a save situation and he gives up a sac fly to make it 12-8 — not good.

But all’s well that ends well, as the saying goes.

And despite the drama that built as Seth Maness and Keith Butler had rough nights and allowed three runs each, it was a good night. Not ideal, obviously, and of course getting battered around like that is not what anyone wants to see from any relievers — especially ones in a bullpen with the Cardinals’ track record for too much of this season.

Still, it was a win.

Let’s go back to the good.

Although Shelby Miller had a rough first inning — giving up a double and two singles to three of the first four batters, with 2 runs scored — Matt Holliday got the night’s homer binge started by tying the game with one in the bottom of the first after Yadier Molina singled.

The score stay tied until the bottom of the fourth. For simplicity’s sake, here’s the play-by-play from the Cards website.

Bottom 4

Not mentioned, however, is that the ground-out by Yadi really should have been the second out of a double play — Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy fielded the ball but threw wide to Didi Gregorius so he wasn’t able to touch second base. (Can I say I like Didi Gregorius’s name? Because I do.) And, obviously, Kennedy started throwing some very hittable pitches after walking Holliday.

Since video is always better than words, take a look at all 8 runs scoring here. And, let’s see, in the past week the Cardinals have had a 7-run inning and now an 8-run inning. Too much to hope for a 9-run inning this weekend in Cincinnati?

Speaking of 9 runs, that’s how many the Cards very briefly had when Shelby had his second hit of the night (and the season) — his first career home run. The reaction of Michael Wacha wins the prize for the best, although the smiles all around are definitely fun. And Shelby’s blast was followed up by one from Matt Carpenter, who — surprise, surprise — had another good night at the plate.

His fourth inning single extended his hitting streak to 15 games — which isn’t even the longest on the team, since David Freese also singled in the 8th to extend his streak to 16. And, lagging behind, Allen Craig’s 2 hits on the night increased his own streak to double-digits at 10 games.

The hitting star of the night (besides Shelby), though? Daniel Descalso — who singled in the second inning and both doubled and homered in the fourth. That triple for the cycle remained ever-elusive in his subsequent at-bats.

As mentioned, once the score reached 12-2 and Shelby left the game after six innings, things got a little more interesting. Since Ty Wigginton took over in left field at the same time, however, it’s all undoubtedly his fault that Seth Maness gave up four straight singles and was pulled from the game before Kevin Siegrist made his major league debut by giving up a single that allowed the third run of the inning to score. Siegrist then struck out two to end the inning, and struck out two more in the 8th — despite Wigginton still being in the game.

Then came Keith Butler in the 9th and maybe the less said, the better — because what really can be said about two hits, a walk and then consecutive bases-loaded walks? Other than, hey, Edward Mujica, sorry you couldn’t have the night off — but you hadn’t pitched since Tuesday anyway.

So Mujica earned his 18th straight save and the Cardinals won. Hurray!

And now it’s off to Cincinnati for a weekend battle against the Reds that Fox Sports Midwest was promoting with overly dramatic music, forcing Danny Mac to already start using his hyped-up giddy voice in anticipation of this huge series. Thankfully, no footage of “the brawl” — but I’m sure that’s coming, probably in Brandon Phillip’s first at-bat tonight. Right? Because, just like the fans at Busch Stadium who continue to boo Phillips when we should just ignore him, the Fox Midwest announcers can’t ever let go of talking about the brawl even though it was almost three years ago now. It’s probably a very good thing Johnny Cueto is on the DL again and won’t be pitching — not like that will keep him and 2010 being mentioned over and over either. And, yes, the brawl was awful. It made me despise the Reds. But it’s in the deep past, in baseball time, now.

Anyway, Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake are the starters and game time is 6:10 p.m. Central.

Also last night, as you surely know, were the first two rounds of the MLB draft. In the first, the Cardinals selected Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga at no. 19 and high schooler Robert Kaminsky at no. 28. Both are left-handed pitchers. They also chose high school shortstop Oscar Mercado in the second round with pick 57. (A shortstop! Yay!)

Read more about the draft here:

The draft continues today and tomorrow.



Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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