September 27, 2015

Cards go crooked early, coast with a commanding Garcia

ST. LOUIS--BUSCH STADIUM--The St. Louis Cardinals wasted no time leaping all over Milwaukee Brewers' starter, Tyler Wagner (0-1) in their first at-bats, putting up a crooked number, adding another in the next frame, then coasting along behind the outstanding performance of Cardinals' starter, Jaime Garcia (10-5) on the way to a 5-1 victory in front of 45,561 at Busch Stadium Saturday night.

Matt Holliday showed power early, doubling home Stephen Piscotty on a line drive to center field to jump start the Cardinals, 1-0, in the bottom of the first inning. Jhonny Peralta grounded up the middle to score Holliday, increasing the St. Louis lead to 2-0. The Cardinals weren't finished with their first round against Wagner. Kolten Wong produced a two-RBI single to center field, stretching the lead to 4-0.

St. Louis added one more run in the bottom of the second inning, Holliday somewhat recreating his first RBI with another double, this one to left field, scoring Piscotty once more, making it 5-0.

Milwaukee put one on the board in the top of the sixth when Jhonathan Lucroy singled home Michael Reed, nixing a potential St. Louis. shutout.

Garcia was in command from the outset, maybe feeling the need to show his teammates they should have confidence in Cardinals pitching, not because as the group they haven't been outstanding thus far, but because word came down Carlos Martinez's season was over due to a shoulder injury he sustained the day before.

Giving up only one run, Garcia walked no one, scattering seven hits and striking out eight. Cardinals' manager, Mike Matheny, after having to use seven bullpenners after the Martinez injury, needed only to call on one reliever, Steve Cishek, to close out the Brewers in the ninth.

Tyler Wagner gave up all five Cardinals' runs, all earned, in his four innings of work, allowing six hits.

The Pittsburgh Pirates shut down the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon, 4-0, and continue to keep pace with Central Division leading Cardinals, holding steady at three games behind and waiting to see who flinches first. The Pirates are on an eight-game winning streak and showing no signs of letting up.

Many eyes are on the Cardinals because of their dominating, best-in-MBL record (98-57), and there are plenty of baseball fans excited about the upcoming, rarely seen, post-season appearance of the Cubs. Sandwiched between the two, however, are the Bucs, rigged for silent running and working their games into the best possible Central race position possible, putting the Cubs farther behind themselves and sailing just behind the Cardinals.

Chicago slipped back to eight and a half games behind St. Louis, Cubs' manager Joe Maddon, changing his post-game tone a bit to focus his young charges on the more likely scenario of a one-game Wild Card playoff with the Pirates.

At the same time, Pittsburgh, will the recent rash of wins at Wrigley Field, are securing head-to-head value and is looking at playing that potential Wild Card versus the Cubs at PNC Park, that is, if they fail to catch the Cardinals, a reasonable possibility.