Wacha Wows In One-Hit Winner

Wacha 2All too often, kids come into professional baseball hot off of a collegiate career with potential through the roof. It’s not unusual for the transition to pro ball to take some time. It IS unusual for a guy less than a year removed from his final college game to not only be invited to Spring Training, but also force his way into the conversation about the Big League rotation.

When Cardinal veterans like Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright jump on board, you have to believe there’s something to it.

This spring, Molina said the 22-year-old Michael Wacha was Big League ready. Wainwright, when asked about the 2014 rotation said, “He’ll be there.”

Cardinals fans know first hand what happens when a guy doesn’t live up to the astronomical expectations. Colby Rasmus? Brendan Ryan? Tyler Greene? Not pretty. And with a rotation of Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller (which left out Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal), there was no need to rush Wacha. Continue reading

That’s A Very Wild Cardinals Winner!

Whatever it takes to win, right? And with the cold offense continuing, great defense and taking advantage of any possible opportunity are what it does take — and that’s exactly how the Cardinals walked-off a winner over the Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings.

Oh, and with the win and the Pirates loss, the Cards have sole possession of first place in the NL Central again — thank you, Anthony Rizzo and the rest of the Cubs!

Here’s how this wild winner came about.

First, there was Adam Wainwright doing what he does best — which you can see the full highlights of here. Eight innings with only one run on a home run by Mike Zunino, six total hits, six strikeouts (including number 200 of the season on — surprise — a curveball) and two walks.

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All photos: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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That’s A Sweep! And A 1 1/2 Game Lead!

The best way to get over a 2-5 road trip against your top two division competitors? A sweep upon arriving home, of course!

And that’s exactly what the St. Louis Cardinals did, moving from 1 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates going into Friday’s game to now having a 1 1/2 game lead thanks to Sunday’s rather easy 9-2 win.

9-9-4Yesterday’s game also completed The 17 Biggest Cardinals Games in the History of The World. End result? A 10-7 record, moving from 1 game back to 1 1/2 games in front and now only 19 regular season games remaining.

Things are looking up.

The win was a great cap to a so-far-perfect homes stand also. While it was definitely a complete team win yesterday — every Cardinals starter but one had an RBI — Michael Wacha stands out, and not just for his pitching.

Although that was pretty incredible, as he threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits while also striking out and walking two each. He has a scoreless innings streak that’s now 19 2/3 innings. Yet he also had a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning that drove in David Freese and Matt Adams.

When it’s your day, it’s your day.

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Well, Cardinals, That Was No Fun

About that sweep of the Reds … maybe next week.

YikesBut winning the series is preferable, which the St. Louis Cardinals have now done five straight times. Plus a 5-2 home stand to start The 17 Biggest Cardinals Games in the History of the World is obviously very good.

Last night, though, and losing 10-0 to the Cincinnati Reds? Yikes!

That was the very accurate subject line of an email from my uncle Jim last night, who was late turning on the game and found the Reds leading 6-0 in the first inning and then 9-0 in the second.

Safe to say it was not Adam Wainwright’s night.

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Cards Battle Back For Wild, Walk-Off Winner

Last night’s 14-inning marathon between division rivals was everything you hope for in baseball … and everything you hope you never see again. It was messy. It was complicated. There were more “What in the world?” moments than “That was awesome!” moments. There were misses, followed by extra chances.

Also, there was a final inning lineup that included Sam Freeman, Adron Chambers, Pete Kozma, Rob Johnson, and Daniel Descalso. So, yeah …

Cardinals beat writer Jenifer Langosch condensed it nicely:

The ace pitcher the Cardinals had pushed back to set the tone in a key division matchup sunk his club into a hole early. A routine catch not made gave St. Louis an extra breath late. The Pirates stalled rallies by moving an infielder to the outfield and later adding an outfielder to the infield. And a Cardinals middle reliever would twice find himself batting with the winning run 90 feet from home.

In all, the Cardinals used 20 of their 25 players, threw 227 pitches, stranded 17 on base and finished 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Roughly eight hours later, and the baseball world is still trying to make sense of it all.

Cards win in walk-off style, 5-4 over the Pirates in 14 innings!

Cards win in walk-off style, 4-3 over the Pirates in 14 innings!

One thing everyone can agree on — this win was big. Dare I say, huge. The Cardinals played with more heart, with more “never say die” intensity than we’ve seen this year. Dubbed the “Comeback Cardinals” the last two seasons, they seemed to have lost that edge. I guess winning so many games in the first half with relative ease buried the killer instinct a little deeper than anyone realized. But, if there was a time for it to return, it was last night. Continue reading

The Sweet Relief of a Cardinals Victory

Ah … that Cardinals win felt good, especially going into today’s much-needed off day.

smileyThe Cards wrapped up a 21-games-in-20-straight-days stretch with a 8-4 win over the Cubs — doing what was necessary to get back on track: win one game at a time.

It wasn’t necessarily easy, it wasn’t always pretty and Darwin Barney continued to impersonate Babe Ruth despite the fact his batting average is .215 but the end result was just what the Cardinals needed. Plus Edward Mujica finally got save no. 31 — more than two weeks after getting save 30 on July 25. And he even got to bat!

Several other Cardinals had at-bats that were better and more productive, thankfully. And it all began in the first inning. Three singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly and a stolen base added up to three runs. Offense!

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Joe Kelly, Forgotten No More

Remember when Joe Kelly was the Ferrari stuck in the garage? Without a defined role, without many opportunities. He was jumped over for spot starts by the AAA flame throwers like John Gast and Tyler Lyons. Meanwhile, Kelly sat.

Remember that?

Now, twice in the last week Kelly has been the guy. The stopper … literally. He stopped the Cardinals’ seven-game losing streak last Thursday, then last night he stopped the Dodgers’ 15-game road winning streak. And, he out-dueled one Clayton Kershaw in the process.

There was much to clap about as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers 5-1.

There was much to clap about as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers 5-1.

The once-forgotten son silenced the hot Dodgers bats through the first five innings, due in part to three double play balls, giving up just one run in the sixth. That run ended Kelly’s own streak of scoreless innings, but the “fill-in” starter has an 0.78 ERA over his last four starts. Not too shabby. Continue reading

Westbrook: “I’m going to be better.”

It wasn’t Westie’s night. Boo

Five runs on four hits and five walks in five innings.

It wasn’t the rest of the lineup’s night, either. At least not like it had been the previous two evenings.

Just four hits. Three runs. Six runners stranded. One-for-nine with runners in scoring position, and three left with two outs. No magic two-out RBI this time.

And the Pirates won, to boot.

No, it wasn’t the Cardinals’ night. But, they’re going to be better. Winning teams make adjustments. They take nights like last night and figure out how to avoid the same mistakes again. That’s the idea, anyway.

“I’m going to be better,” Westbrook said. “It’s just a matter of figuring it out and getting back into the swing of things and getting back to where I was earlier in the year, getting a lot of ground balls and limiting my walks and getting a lot deeper in the ballgame than I have been.”

You know the best part about this road trip? It’s almost over. One game left today, and it’s over. You know what else? There’s absolutely nothing the Cardinals can do about the last 10 games. The wins were big. They were loud. Yet, the losses were louder. Even so, just like a good pitcher has to have a short memory, so does an entire team. Continue reading

Yes, The Cards Are Down, But No One Is Out

Yesterday’s doubleheader could have been a chance to flip the momentum right back around. Instead, the Cardinals continued to play hide and seek with their offense, and lost both games. That pushes the season-high losing streak to six. And what’s worse? They

"Tell me when it's safe to look, okay?"

“Tell me when it’s safe to look, okay?”

also lost Yadier Molina.

Everyone take a moment to panic, cry, scream, throw things, blame Mike Matheny, Tyler Greene or the Muffin Man. Get it all out.

No matter what, there are still 57 games left to play. And, I don’t know about you, but I have a suspicion that a 1.5 game deficit can be made up in 57 games … somehow.

Now, I’m certainly not happy with the goings on the last week. It’s been tough. The Cardinals have looked bad — swinging at bad pitches, pressing, expanding the strike zone, playing poor defense, and acting more defeated than perhaps they should. To throw Yadi’s injury into the mix is just pouring salt in the wound. For now, the team is calling it a sprain, though the MRI today will provide more detail.

A sprain or a hangnail, though — time without the MVP candidate will hurt. Not only will the pitching staff miss his guidance, but the lineup that is struggling to put numbers on the board will miss his 2nd-place NL batting average. What’s more, he has often been credited as the heart and soul of the team. Continue reading

Miller + Craig + Molina = 60

How many ways can you say “The Cardinals are good at baseball?” Because I’m starting to feel like a broken record (it’s my favorite record, though!).

The Cardinals welcomed the Phillies to town last night. The Phills may be a little battered this season, but there are no small victories when the slimmest of margins separates the Cardinals from the rest. This was also the perfect way to see how rookie Shelby Miller would react to some extra time off.

He embraced it.image

Shelby was back to the Shelby who wowed us early this summer. He confused and frustrated the visiting hitters, throwing down a three-hit shutout through six innings of work, striking out six and walking just one for his 10th win of the year.

Let the doubters doubt. Miller wants that Rookie of the Year award.

Mike Matheny is (or at least was last night) being a bit more careful about how long his young star pitches. Shelby faced 21 batters and threw 85 pitches, but was suddenly bothered by a cramp in his right calf. Not willing to take any chances, Miller then was relived by Randy Choate, then Seth Maness, followed by Trevor Rosenthal, and Edward Mujica. Continue reading