So, the way things have been going lately, when Gregory Polanco drove his first-inning home run into the right field bleachers, you will have to forgive me for shaking my head and thinking, “here we go again.”
The Cardinals were coming off their sixth loss in seven games, and had just surrendered the game’s first run for the sixth time in the previous seven games. It was starting to look like the re-run of a movie we’d seen before.
But last night the Cards answered – and kept answering. Four runs in the second, two more in the third, five runs in each of the fourth and sixth innings, a final tally in the eighth. A week’s worth of frustration and bad luck poured out in a deluge of hits and walks. Many players who have seen lots of zeroes in their recent box scores saw their fortunes reversed in this one – a 17-4 victory (box score).
In fact, every Cardinal starter except the pitcher finished with at least 1 hit and 1 run scored. All but Paul DeJong drove in at least 1 run.
St Louis has been on the other end of a few of these pummelings in recent days. On April 26 the Cincinnati Reds pounded them to the tune of 12-1. On May 5, a 13-5 loss to the Cubs was actually 13-2 in the ninth inning before the Cards put a few meaningless runs on the board. Most recently – on Tuesday – the Cards fell 11-1 before Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia club.
Neither the Reds, Cubs nor Phillies were on the field to receive this payback. Last night, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would have been nice to answer one of the clubs that pushed us around, but this was still sufficiently satisfactory.
The first sentence in the MLB.com report on this game reads: “Turns out the concerns about the Cardinals’ collective offensive rut carried a short shelf life, as a visit from the Pirates proved to be all the antidote they needed on Thursday.”
I’m not entirely sure we can make that assumption yet. Over their previous seven games, the Cards averaged 2.57 runs per game and were shutout twice. It was nice to see some hits and some runs last night, but before we declare the Cardinal bats cured, let’s see how they do tonight, OK?
Never bothered by the team hitting woes, Yadier Molina was again one of the driving offensive forces last night, with 3 hits (including a double) 2 runs batted in and 3 runs scored. Molina has hit safely in 25 of his last 28 starts, batting .346 over that stretch (37 for 107). He has 26 runs batted in in those 28 games.
He is hitting .393 (11 for 28) for the month of May with 3 doubles, a home run and 7 RBIs to go along with a .607 slugging percentage.
The Cardinals are still pining for consistency and innings from their rotation. Even with the big lead, Michael Wacha couldn’t make it through the sixth. He is now 3-0 on the season, but with a 5.35 ERA – 6.75 over his two starts this month.
This was Wacha’s third start this season on four-days rest. He has started on five-days rest on two other occasions. It’s far too early to call this a trend, but the early numbers between Wacha on four-days and five-days are at least worth looking at.
On four-days, Wacha has made it through only 14.1 innings of those three starts, serving up 5 home runs. His 9.42 ERA is backed by a batting line against him of .371/.414/.710. His ground-ball percentage in those starts was only 33.9%
In his two five-days starts, Wacha has thrown 11.2 innings, allowing 1 home run. In those starts, his ERA falls to 2.31, and the corresponding batting line just .190/.333/.357 while batters are hitting the ball on the ground 46.4% of the time.
In only a handful of starts, and too early to over-react. But it’s something to keep an eye on.