Wednesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Indians 2
By Rob Rains
Before the Cardinals could break their longest losing streak in exactly four years, they first had to figure out how to do something else – get a lead.
Going into Wednesday night’s game, during the 54 innings that added up to their six consecutive losses, the Cardinals had led at the end of only three of those completed innings – and had no leads past the second inning.
Their chances of ending that streak appeared in trouble again five batters into this game – when the Indians took a 2-0 lead against Adam Wainwright on three hits and a sacrifice fly.
“Gosh darn you look up and it’s 2-0 and there could have been that, ‘here we go again’ but guys said no, we’ve got to figure it out,” said manager Mike Shildt.
Nobody said it louder than Wainwright.
“I came into the dugout afterwards and I said, ‘They’re not scoring any more runs,’” Wainwright said. “I’m keeping it right there. Our hitters took it upon themselves to make sure that we were going to put some runs on the board too.”
Yadier Molina drew a bases loaded walk, on a 10-pitch at-bat, before Matt Carpenter lined a double into the right field corner that cleared the bases and put the Cardinals in front 4-2 before the first inning was over.
“For me I think that was the at-bat of the game,” Carpenter said of Molina’s walk. “That was the at-bat that changed the whole momentum of the game, the whole outlook. It’s not going to go down in the box score as a significant play, he doesn’t get a ton of credit from people that maybe don’t understand how big of an at-bat that was.
“It set the tone. I don’t come up to the plate in that situation if he doesn’t take the at-bat that he had. … Yadi just wore him down. He gets as much credit as I do for that hit.”
Staked to that elusive lead, Wainwright was true to his word – although he didn’t predict that the Indians would not get another hit in the game after the first inning.
“I like pitching with a little extra incentive,” Wainwright said. “Today was a special day that we needed me to go out and pitch well and I was lucky I did.”
Here’s how Wednesday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: The four runs the Cardinals scored after the first inning came on three home runs, two from Tyler O’Neill. He hit a two-run shot over the visitor’s bullpen in the third and a solo blast to dead center field in the seventh, increasing his team-leading total to 15 … Paul Goldschmidt led off the seventh with his eighth of the season … O’Neill’s first homer was measured at 451 feet, his fourth homer of more than 450 feet this season … He also had about a 50-foot infield single in the first that loaded the bases for Molina.
On the mound: The only Indians runner to reach base after the first inning was Bradley Zimmer, the eighth-place hitter, who Wainwright hit with an 0-2 pitch in the fifth. Otherwise he retired 20 of the final 21 hitters he faced before coming out of the game after the seventh inning. He struck out six and recorded 11 ground ball outs … Genesis Cabrera worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Ryan Helsley did the same in the ninth … It was only the second game this season in which the Cardinals did not issue a walk. The other was on April 26, when Wainwright pitched a complete game but lost 2-1 to the Phillies.
Key stat: Carpenter is now 6-of-19 in June, a .316 average, and after hitting .152 through the end of May has raised his season average to .184. He had a total of five hits in April and seven in May. Since the start of the 2019 season, Carpenter has had only one month he which he posted an average above .238, hitting .269 in September, 2019.
Worth noting: The six-game streak was the longest losing streak by the Cardinals since they lost seven in a row from June 2 to June 8, 2017 … In addition to getting the win, Wainwright recorded his first hit of the season. He had been 0-of-20 this year and dating back to 2019 had not had a hit in his last 25 at-bats … Paul DeJong was 1-of-5 in a doubleheader at Memphis on Wednesday. In four rehab games, he was a combined 1-of-10. He is expected to join the Cardinals on Friday in Chicago.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals have their second day off of the week on Thursday and will travel to Chicago for a three-game weekend series against the Cubs that begins with a 1:20 p.m. game on Friday. Johan Oviedo will get that start.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains