Photo is credited to Getty Images.
In the first series of the year at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals faced off with the Milwaukee Brewers, covering three of nineteen scheduled games between the two teams this year.
Game One: Cardinals 10, Brewers 1– WP: Michael Wacha (1-0) LP: Taylor Jungmann (0-1)
After scoring 31 runs in their previous three games, the Cardinals continued their heavy hitting in the first game of the series against the Brewers, plating a double-digit run total for the third consecutive day.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Jeremy Hazelbaker tripled off of Milwaukee starter Taylor Jungmann to get the offensive outburst started for St. Louis. Hazelbaker crossed the plate on a double from Matt Holliday, who would do the same on a double from Randal Grichuk. Yadier Molina followed Grichuk’s double with a single, plating St. Louis’s third run of the day.
The Cardinals got back in the run column again the next inning with a double from shortstop Aledmys Diaz and a triple from Matt Carpenter. Hazelbaker brought Carpenter in on a sacrifice fly, his second RBI in as many innings. Then, in the third inning, Stephen Piscotty doubled, his first of two hits on the day. Grichuk drew a walk before Molina rifled a double to plate Piscotty and end Jungmann’s outing, one that he allowed seven extra-base hits in. He was replaced by Tyler Cravy, who surrendered a sacrifice fly to Kolten Wong that drove in the team’s seventh run. Diaz doubled in Molina before Carpenter singled in the rookie shortstop to give St. Louis a 9-0 advantage.
Nine runs were more than enough for Michael Wacha, the starter for the Cardinals on Monday. Wacha tossed six scoreless innings and recorded seven strikeouts while limiting the Brew Crew to four hits.
Matt Bowman entered the game for the Cardinals in the seventh inning and surrendered a home run to Brewers first baseman Chris Carter. St. Louis would get that run back in the bottom half of the frame off of former Cardinal left-hander Sam Freeman. Eric Fryer singled and was drove in by Matt Adams.
Lefty Tyler Lyons pitched a scoreless ninth inning to secure a 10-1 victory for the Cardinals in their home opener.
-After going 1-for-17 in the first six games of the season, Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in Monday’s 10-1 victory.
-Since 1938, only two Cardinals have recorded five extra-base hits in five straight games as rookie. That couple is Enos Slaughter, who did so in 1938, and Aledmys Diaz, who went 3-for-5 in the first game of the series.
Game Two: Brewers 6, Cardinals 4 — WP: Michael Blazek (1-0) LP: Trevor Rosenthal (0-1) SV: Jeremy Jeffress (4)
The Brewers surrendered a one-run lead to the Cardinals late in the middle game of the series, but it would be Milwaukee who’d finish the ballgame with the better score.
The Brew Crew jumped on Mike Leake early with a couple of doubles from Domingo Santana and Jonathan Lucroy, plating a run just four batters into the game. St. Louis answered in their half of the frame, capitalizing on an error by third baseman Collin Walsh. The error, one that resulted from not fielding a routine groundball cleanly, extended the inning to Randal Grichuk, who drove in two with a double. That error, doubles from Matt Holliday and Grichuk, and a base hit from Yadier Molina was the recipe for three runs and a two-run lead for the Cardinals.
The 3-1 Cardinals lead would not stand long, however, as Milwaukee shrunk their deficit in the fourth inning on a single from outfielder Ramon Flores. The Brewers knotted the score at three the following frame with back-to-back singles from Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy and a costly throwing error from third baseman Matt Carpenter, one that allowed Braun to advance to second and score on the base hit from Lucroy. Chris Carter, Milwaukee’s first baseman, doubled to plate Lucroy and gain a 4-3 edge.
Brewers starter Cody Anderson rolled through the Cardinals’ batting order after the shaky first inning, one where all three runs scored were unearned and therefore not charged to him. Anderson turned in six respectable innings, limiting St. Louis to three hits in his outing. With the six innings, Anderson has not allowed an earned run in eleven innings thus far in the regular season.
The Cardinals hit four pinch-hit home runs all of 2015; entering Wednesday’s game, the team had three already to its credit. Brandon Moss was called on to hit in the bottom of the eighth against Michael Blazek, a former Cardinal. Moss did not miss a hanging breaking ball from Blazek, commandingly placing the pitch over 420 feet away in the bleachers in right-center field. The score was tied, 4-4, and the Cardinals collected their fourth pinch-hit blast of the year.
Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal entered the game in a non-save situation in the ninth inning, his first appearance in five days. After retiring the first two batters quickly, Rosenthal walked pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a 3-2 changeup. Santana came up next. On an 0-1 count, Rosenthal went back to the heat, reaching in the tank for a 98 MPH fastball. Santana proved he can handle that heat, connecting with the pitch and sending it 440 feet the opposite direction. Santana’s second hit of the night, a two-out, two-run blast, gave the Brewers a 6-4 lead, which would be the final score of the game.
-Cardinals left-handed pitching prospect Marco Gonzales will undergo Tommy John surgery later this week, the team announced on Wednesday.
Game Three: Cardinals 7, Brewers 0 — WP: Jaime Garcia (1-0) LP: Wily Peralta (0-3)
After their high run production dipped in the middle game of the series, the Cardinals scored plenty of runs in the rubber game to support their starting hurler and take the three-game series from Milwaukee.
Lefty Jaime Garcia was on the mound for St. Louis on Thursday, and he racked up strikeouts early, ringing up four Brewers in the first two innings. The Cardinals gave Garcia three runs of support in the second off of Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta. Randal Grichuk, took third on a double from Yadier Molina, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Kolten Wong. Garcia singled to shift Molina to third before Matt Carpenter ripped his second double of the year to drive in two runs and give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
The way Garcia got to rolling, three runs were enough. Nonetheless, the Cardinals provided their starter with more run support in the fifth, via the first long ball, a two-run shot, off the bat of Grichuk this season. Garcia did not surrender a hit until the sixth inning — a single to Domingo Santana.
Peralta would complete five innings, allowing the five mentioned runs. Entering the game in his place was Chris Capuano, who pitched the sixth and seventh innings for the Brew Crew. Capuano allowed two runs, including a two-run blast to Jeremy Hazelbaker that extended the Cardinals’ lead to 7-0.
With a seven-run lead, Garcia continued to breeze through the Milwaukee lineup. With twelve strikeouts and two outs in the ninth, Garcia recorded the final out — via the strikeout, fittingly — to complete a complete-game shutout of the Brewers and hold the offense to a mere one base hit.
-With his double in the third, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has 124 doubles in his career at Busch Stadium; he has recorded the most two-baggers in the stadium’s history, passing up former Cardinal Albert Pujols.
Brewers: The Brewers will continue their first road trip of the season with a three-game set against the Pirates this weekend. The Pirates played a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers this week, with the first two games at Comerica Park in Detroit and the other two in Pittsburgh. The Tigers took three of four.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will welcome in the Cincinnati Reds, who played this week at Wrigley Field in Chicago with the Cubs; the Cubs took all three games. The Reds boast the second-best record in the National League Central, trailing only to the Cubs.