Oh, THERE You Are, Offense!

Nothing like a good, old fashioned slugfest to break an ice cold offense out of a slump, eh? Also, the Astros. Nice to have a few games with the Astros again.

Cardinals_Astros_If you listen to or read many quotes from the team, though, you’d certainly not think it was a 13-run night for the NL Central leaders. Words like “weird,” and “off” were common. Most of the frustrated comments were in relation to an odd strike zone. Despite the 15 hits and 13 runs, the team also struck out a season-high 14 times. “Odd” certainly seems apropos.

Matheny agreed that it was “odd” for his team to strike out so many times, yet have so many hits (15) and score so many runs.

“Guys on our club were having called strikeouts you just don’t see very often. Something was a little off tonight,” said Matheny.

This was a gentle way of suggesting that home plate umpire Marvin Hudson’s strike zone took some getting used to, both for his hitters and even for Westbrook.

“There were a lot of things on both sides,” said Matheny. “The strike zone was tough tonight.”

Still, the power plenty to make up for the frustration with the strike zone. Every starter but Jon Jay had at least one hit (Jay walked to force in a run, though) and nine different players had at least one RBI. It turned into a party — a home run party — in the Crawford Boxes, with Allen Craig as the guest of honor.

The Amazing Whacker Guy was 4-for-5 on the night, scoring two and adding three runs to his already impressive RBI total (his 61 rank 5th in MLB). He knocked in the first run in the fourth inning, then Matt Carpenter did what he does and broke the game wide open with bases-loaded triple, making it 6-0. They’d add one more run in the inning … and that’s as many runs as the team had scored in the entire weekend series against the Rangers.

Good thing they had a big inning (they also added two runs each in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, including a David Freese two-run monster just inside the left field foul pole. Carlos Beltran also hit his sixth home run for June).

Westbrook, who held the Astros hitless through five innings, had a 2012 Westbrook inning in the sixth. A lead-off homer, a walk, a single, a triple, and a sac fly ruined his night. Well, ended it anyway. I suppose a night where you get a win can’t be totally ruined by a rough inning. Good news was, (besides the run-socring outburst), Seth Maness came in and did his thing, 1-2-3. Keith Butler followed suit in the eighth. The ninth, though far from a save opportunity, was to belong to Edward Mujica. This is where things got weird again. He got a strike out, but it was followed by a double. He then got a ground out, followed by an RBI single (by Ronny Cedeno, no less). After the walk to Matt Dominguez, Matheny had seen enough. No need leaving his season-saving closer out there to get beat up in a 13-5 game. So, the last out was in the hands of Michael Blazek.

(I tell you what, that kid has to be so happy to be back with the big club. What a tease, calling him up, warming him up in a game, and then never bringing him in! He’s looked sharp, too. Obviously. He’s a Cardinal rookie. That’s what they do!)

At the end of the night, though, you can apply any adjective you’d like: weird, strange, irritating, unusual, confusing. The only descriptor that matters is the “W” after the scorer.

Hitters hit. Winners win. The Cards are back! (The bad news is, the Pirates are on a five-game winning streak and are just one game back.)

Let’s hope they keep this ball rolling with another big winner today!

Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.

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