Game Report: Padres 6, Cardinals 4
By Rob Rains
It’s admittedly a very small sample size, but the early returns on the Cardinals’ free agent signing of Andrew Miller have not been positive.
Miller made his home debut on Saturday, coming into the game to start the eighth inning with the Cardinals holding onto a 3-2 lead over the Padres. When Miller left the mound six batters later, the Padres led 6-3.
In a continuation of the problems which plagued him in his four appearances as a Cardinal during the season-opening road trip, Miller failed to retire the first batter he faced, which started the trouble. A home run to the second batter, Austin Hedges – the Padres’ eighth-place hitter, put San Diego in front. After another walk, Manny Machado hit the second home run of the inning.
In Miller’s first five appearances with the Cardinals, the first batter he has faced has reached base four times – and scored on three of those occasions. One of those came on a Christian Yelich home run, and the other two came after reaching base on a walk.
Miller also walked another leadoff batter, in Pittsburgh, but that runner did not score.
In his five games thus far with the Cardinals, 11 of the 20 hitters Miller has faced have reached base and six of those have scored.
“I feel good, I feel confident coming in games I’m just not getting it done,” Miller said. “Nobody feels worse about that than me. My expectations for myself are incredibly high. I’m not doing it right now.”
Miller’s ERA jumped to 10.80 after allowing two home runs in a relief appearance for the first time since 2015.
He did not get much help from his teammates. An error on a foul popup by Paul Goldschmidt preceded the second walk, and then the Cardinals had Ian Kinsler picked off but could not complete the play prior to Machado’s home run.
“It’s a fine line between getting guys to swing at pitches and not, “ Miller said. “They laid off some good ones and put me in trouble. I’ve got to do better … That’s a game we need to win. I didn’t do my part.”
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Marcell Ozuna hit his first home run of the year, turning on an 82 miles per hour slider and sending it an estimated 455 feet into Big Mac land that temporarily put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 in the sixth … Kolten Wong’s sacrifice fly and a single by Tyler O’Neill produced the other two Cardinals’ runs … Yadier Molina and Dexter Fowler both had their first two-hit games of the season … Molina’s two-out single in the ninth brought Fowler to the plate representing the tying run, but he struck out to end the game … The Cardinals were just 2-of-12 with runners in scoring position and are now 9 of 61 in those situations this season.
On the mound: Michael Wacha issued a career high eight walks but held the Padres to one run over 5 2/3 innings. He threw 119 pitches, which tied his career high … John Gant also allowed a home run. Cardinals pitchers have allowed 16 home runs in the first eight games. It’s the first time they have given up at least one home run in the season’s first eight games since 1958. The longest streak of allowing at least one home run to begin a season is 10 games in 1954.
Key stat: In a combined 30 appearances in their first eight games, Cardinals relievers have walked the first batter they faced nine times. Five of those runners later came around to score.
Worth noting: The Cardinals are expected to announce on Sunday that Alex Reyes has been optioned to Memphis to try to work on his control issues. The corresponding move is not known … The eight walks by Wacha were the most by a Cardinals starter in a home game since Pat Hentgen also walked eight on June 22, 2000 against the Giants … The last Cardinals’ starter to issue eight or more walks and allow no more than one run was Bob Gibson in the second game of a doubleheader on Aug. 18, 1962 when he still shut out the Mets … Wacha’s 119 pitches were the most by a Cardinals’ starter in the first eight games of a season since Matt Morris threw 123 pitches in the season’s fifth game in 2002.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals will try to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday behind Adam Wainwright, making his second start of the season and first at home. The Padres have not swept a three-game series in St. Louis since 1980.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
POSTGAME AUDIO– CARDINALS PODCAST
Mike Shildt, Michael Wacha, and Andrew Mitchell