Wednesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Brewers 2
By Rob Rains
One of the quirks to the start to this season was a schedule that called for the Cardinals to play 10 of their first 24 games against the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers.
It might have been even more of a quirk that Adam Wainwright had a great seat in the dugout to watch the first nine of those games.
Wainwright finally had a chance to get in on the action on Wednesday in the final game of this early-season stretch and made the most of it. He pitched six innings, allowing just one hit after the first inning, and won the 150th game of his career.
“It’s crazy how those things line up sometimes,” Wainwright said. “This is the least amount of film work I had to do in preparing for a start maybe in my whole career. I knew by heart what they had done the whole season because basically we had played them the whole season. Besides looking at hit charts and tendencies on counts and stuff I pretty much had a good plan going in.”
The win, their fifth in a row and 10th in their last 11 games at Busch Stadium, allowed the Cardinals to finish those 10 games against the Brewers with a 5-5 record. Overall the team is 15-9, the best record in the National League.
“After that first series, when we lost three out of four but played some close games, back and forth, we all knew it was going to be a slugfest; not necessarily homers but a bunch of back and forth lead changes throughout the year and knew it was going to be a bunch of tight games,” Wainwright said. “We knew they were going to come to play and we knew we were going to come to play. When you have two great teams that see each other as much as we have, you’re going to have some battles. Luckily we responded well at home this time.”
Now, the Cardinals will play 99 games against other opponents before they see the Brewers again on Aug. 19.
“There’s going to be one or two games then that’s going to be deciding something down the stretch,” Wainwright predicted.
Wainwright’s milestone win wasn’t secured until Jordan Hicks struck out Christian Yelich on a checked swing with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Yelich was pinch-hitting after not starting for the first time this season. He was 0-of-7 in the series, struck out four times and walked twice.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals gave Wainwright a 4-1 lead in the fourth on a three-run homer from Marcell Ozuna and a solo shot from Yadier Molina … Their final run scord in the seventh when Jose Martinez hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded … Molina extended his hitting streak to 12 games and Paul Goldschmidt had a single and double to extend his streak to 11 games … Paul DeJong also had two hits, raising his average to .343 … Lane Thomas made his first career start in center field and had two hits, reached on a walk and stole a base.
On the mound: Wainwright’s first inning was shaky as he allowed a home run to Eric Thames and two singles before getting out of the inning with a double play … The only other baserunners he allowed were a walk in the second, followed by another double play, and a two-out double in the fifth as he retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced … John Brebbia threw another 1-2-3 inning but Andrew Miller struggled again, giving up a single, walking two and hitting a batter while getting only two outs in the ninth … The forced Hicks into the game to face Yelich, earning his seventh save.
Key stat: Ozuna tied Goldschmidt for the team lead with nine home runs. This is the first time in Cardinals’ history they have had two players each with nine homers after the first 24 games of the season. The previous high was eight, by Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders in 2004 and by Albert Pujols and J.D. Drew in 2001 … The only two Cardinals with more than nine homers before the end of April were Pujols with 14 in 2006 and Mark McGwire with 11 in 1998.
Worth noting: The Cardinals celebrated the 20th anniversary of Fernando Tatis hitting two grand slams in the same game on Tuesday night but it turns out he wasn’t the only person in the ballpark who had done that. Thomas did it when he was a sophomore in high school in Knoxville, Tenn. He said Wednesday he actually came to the plate three times in the inning, getting hit by a pitch in his first at-bat before hitting the two grand slams. “I think we scored something like 18 runs in the inning,” Thomas said. … As expected the Cardinals activated Harrison Bader from the injured list and optioned Tuesday night’s starter, Daniel Ponce de Leon, back to Memphis … Tyler O’Neill played the complete game in right field for Springfield on Wednesday and went 0-of-4. He is hitless in seven at-bats in the first two of a planned three-game rehab assignment … Luke Gregerson pitched a scoreless inning in the game, striking out two, and requiring only nine pitches to get the three outs … Dylan Carlson hit a two-run homer, giving him 17 RBIs in his first 20 games in Double A … Alex Reyes is set to make his second start for Memphis on Thursday in Omaha.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals have the day off on Thursday before beginning a stretch of 17 consecutive games on Friday prior to their next break on May 13. The Reds will he in town for a three-game series with Miles Mikolas getting the start in the opener. The Cardinals also are scheduled to announce this year’s class for the team’s Hall of Fame during a pre-game ceremony.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Post-Game Interviews- Mike Shildt, Adam Wainwright