Ahh, now this is how Saint Louis Cardinals baseball should be. Two more series, two more series wins. Doesn’t that sound like a pretty great week? Well, something like that, I guess.. The Cardinals have been handed some tragic news over the last week, but they’ve done a fine job easing their fanbase’s pain. The only way to understand better the vitalness that these previous games have had, I’ll have to fill you in on what happened.
The tragic situation had been well speculated for a day or two, so it wasn’t totally unexpected, but it was “professionally confirmed” Monday that Cardinal hurler Adam Wainwright tore his left achilles. He had the operation to repair it on Thursday and is now on the shelf for at least nine months. It’s never fun to see any Major League Baseball player to be injured while playing our game, especially when the severity of the injury interferes with the remainder of the players’ season. But I think that every fan of any team that has been through the agonizing days following an injury can agree that nothing can boost your spirit quite like a good team victory can.
The slumping Philadelphia Phillies cruised into St. Louis on Sunday evening, and they were set to begin a four game matchup versus the Cardinals. The Birds started play on Monday evening fresh off of the near unbelievable news of their staff Ace, and one could rightfully state that the team was carrying the sadness on their backs. What team wouldn’t? Anyways, Cole Hamels tossed it around for the Phils and John Lackey did the same job for the Cardinals in game one of the series. The hometown Redbirds took to the scoreboard first in the third. Matt Holliday singled in Matt Carpenter for an early 1-0 lead. The score stood ’till the Phillies’ part of the seventh. They were able to throw a three in the run column, and it gave them a 3-1 lead. It turned out that they’d only need those three runs in order to win the ballgame, but they tacked on another in the ninth for good measure. The Phillies downed the Cardinals 4-1, and they took a 1-0 lead in the four game series.
In game two, the Cardinals’ batting order was all shuffled up in an order to spark someone enough to fuel the offensive fire. You ask for runs, and you’ll get some runs. Perhaps maybe eleven runs. The Cardinals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first, and they did a little more work in the second worthy of a couple more tallies. Philadelphia made it a “real ballgame” in the third. They scored twice to cut the deficit in half. The Birds replied with three runs in their part of the third to pad the lead up to 7-2. The Phillies sounded off with two more in the fifth, but the Cardinals did as well. They scored another in the top of the seventh but to no use. The Cardinals tacked on two more runs, one in the eighth and the ninth, and they went on to win 11-5. The lineup change seemed to work wonders. There were hits and RBIs up and down the batting order, something that had been rare to that point. The Cardinals tied up the series 1-1 and then prepared for Wednesday night‘s game.
Carlos Martinez faced off against Aaron Harang in game three. The Cardinals were able to give Martinez a run in the second inning to work with. His start was pretty good, as they all have been so far. He allowed just two runs, a homer by Ryan Howard and an RBI single from Obudel Herrera. The Redbirds backed him up in the fifth inning when they racked up four runs. The Cardinals took the lead, 5-2, and went on to win the game by the same score. The win guaranteed the Cardinals at least another series tie.
Thursday’s matinee was started by Tim Cooney for the Cardinals. Cooney, a left hander, was making his Major League debut. He was opposed by David Buchanan. The Cardinals supplied Cooney with some assurance in the first inning, but you couldn’t do much to calm the nervousness and excitement he had to be feeling. They did hit Buchanan around for three runs, only to have those seemingly erased in the third. Cooney went two and a third innings, allowing three runs and striking out three. Carlos Villanueva came on in relief of him and was very impressive. With the score knotted at three a piece, Matt Adams did some damage with his bat. He blistered a ball good enough in the third inning for his third dinger of the season. Matt Carpenter scored on the play as well, resulting in a 5-3 Cardinal advantage. The “Matts with Bats” worked in the score column in the fifth inning, scoring two, for a 7-3 score. Two more runs were scored by the Cardinals in the eighth inning, and they went on to win 9-3. The Cardinals took three straight from the Phillies after losing the first game. The Cards scored twenty-five runs in those three wins, many thanks to the lineup change on Tuesday.
The Cardinals began a weekend series with the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night at Busch Stadium. A.J. Burnett started for the Pirates. The ol’ reliable, better known as Lance Lynn, started for the Redbirds. Burnett helped his own cause in the sixth, singling in the catcher for a 1-0 lead. The Cardinals answered back in the seventh with a run, courtesy of an infield single from Mark Reynolds. The score stood passed the ninth inning, which resulted in some free baseball. The bottom of the tenth inning for the Cardinals was started by a couple of ground ball outs. Jon Jay came up to bat, and he singled to left field. Matt Carpenter came up next and did what he does best.. doubled. Jay wasn’t able to advance home, so he remained at third. Matt Carpenter stood at second and Matt Holliday came to bat. Holliday was intentionally walked, loading the bases for the first baseman, Matt Adams. Big City, Mayo, Jumbo Pepsi, or whatever you want to call him, rifled a ball down the left field line for a single. Jay scored and the Cardinals won the game 2-1.
Game two was started by John Lackey and Francisco Liriano. The Pirates, for the second straight game, got on the board first. Josh Harrison singled off of Lackey to score Gregory Polanco. The score remained 1-0 Pittsburgh until the Cardinal sixth inning. Jon Jay grounded out, scoring Bourjos. The score was now 1-1. This game would travel into extra innings as well. This game remained knotted until the bottom of the eleventh. Peter Bourjos kicked things off with a double. With Pete Kozma planning to bunt, Bourjos got caught up between second and third. I have no idea why he would be beginning to run prior to the bunt. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to get thrown out at third. He’s a human gazelle. Anyways, Kozma singled. The single should’ve won the game, but it didn’t. Jon Jay came up to bat and singled. Kozma advanced to third, setting things up for Matt Carpenter. He hit a fly ball to left field that was deep enough to score Pete! The Cardinals walked it off for the second straight game by the score of 2-1. The win secured another series for the Cardinals and set up the opportunity for the Birds to sweep away the Buccos.
Game three of the series was started by Michael Wacha. Michael, 23, was looking to go 5-0 on the season. Vance Worley got the nod for the Pirates. Matt Carpenter put his Cardinals on the scoreboard first in the fourth when he murdered a ball for his fourth home run of the year. The 1-0 score stood until the Pirates part of the ninth. Jung Ho Kang, perhaps the most notable of the few Pirates’ offseason acquisitions, hit his first Major League home run off of closer Trevor Rosenthal. With the score now tied 1-1, the game sailed into extra innings.. again. The Pirates scored first in extra innings this time, all thanks to a mammoth home run off of the bat of Pedro Alvarez. The relentless Cardinals answered back with a run in the same inning. The 2-2 score stood until the fourteenth inning.. the home half of it. Kolten Wong rocked away in the left handed batter’s box. The pitcher pitched and Wong crushed the ball. By crushed, I mean murdered. By murdered, I mean slaughtered. He drove the 1-1 pitch far beyond the Cardinals’ bullpen and into the bleachers in right field. The Cardinals won the game, 3-2, and successfully swept Pittsburgh away.
Three of four from the Phillies and all three from the Pirates. All of this coming with the burn of Wainwright’s injury still smoldering. The Cardinals have an 18-6 record so far this season. That’s good enough for the best record in all of Major League Baseball.
The Birds will look to build on to the left side of that record this week when the Chicago Cubs come to Busch Stadium for four consecutive games. Carlos Martinez, the 23 year old righty who’s 3-0 with an ERA south of two and twenty-four strike outs in twenty-six innings this season, starts tomorrow for the Cardinals. Travis Wood will fling the baseball around for the Baby Bears.
In other related news, Jordan Walden hit the disabled list today. Sam Tuivailala was recalled from the Memphis Redbirds. Also announced today was that Tyler Lyons will start Tuesday night against Chicago.
Here’s to the Cardinals showing the baseball world that they should never be counted out, no matter the circumstances.
Thank you for reading!
Twitter: @Curtis_ Josey
The photo can be found on http://www.zimbio.com