The Daily Review: The Cardinals Get A Good Start From Wacha — And A Win — At Miller Park

Welcome to the The Redbird Review.

My daily review of Cardinals baseball. Today: the Cardinals salvage a positive third-game result from a bruising three-game set at Milwaukee.

FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals reduced Christian Yelich’s flames and calmed things down with a 6-3 win over the Brewers at Miller Park. The Cardinals lost two of three at Milwaukee, but at least they prevented a series sweep by the Brewers. The Cardinals improved to 10-8 on the season. Good News: The Cards don’t have to play a series at Miller Park again until late August. Nine of the final 12 games between the Brewers and Cardinals will be played at Busch Stadium. Yeah, this version of the Brewers has won plenty of times at Busch Stadium, but the launching-pad stuff at Miller Park was wacko.

CARDS KILLER: My goodness, the Cardinals held Yelich to one hit, an RBI single in the 8th, and this felt like a major conquest in the war against baseball crime.

BASEBALL HERO: Have to go with Michael Wacha. The Cardinals desperately needed a positive start, someone to stand strong and keep the Brewers from going crazy again at the plate. Wacha delivered with six quality innings, giving up five hits and two runs with only one walk and seven strikeouts. Wacha’s great changeup had the Brewers flummoxed. OK, a Milwaukee relief pitcher homered. I don’t care. Good start. Needed start.

TURNING POINT: I’m staying with Wacha, who prevented the Brewers from counterattacking early in the game. After the Cardinals seized a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, Wacha pitched around a Travis Shaw double in the bottom of the second and held the Brewers scoreless. He did that two more times during the first four innings, going out there to keep the Brewers off the board after the Cardinals had expanded their lead in the top half of the inning. By the time the Brewers scored the Cards had a 5-0 lead. It was vital for Wacha to hold the Brewers down in the early inning. And he did.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Another homer for Marcell Ozuna, who gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with his eighth big fly in the last 10 games. Ozuna has homered in four straight games, totaling five in the last four. Since his Spiderman routine against the Dodgers late in the April 9 game, Ozuna has six homers and 11 runs batted in only 24 at-bats over six games. Damn impressive … and how about Paul DeJong? Four hits, a run scored, and an RBI. DeJong is batting .342 and slugging .630 on the season and is tied for sixth in the majors with 12 extra-base hits … and kudos to backup catcher Matt Wieters, who started and drove in two runs yesterday. Wieters has only started two games so far but has made real impact with three hits and five RBIs in his two assignments … Dexter Fowler is batting .370 over his last six games … three more hits for the dynamic Kolten Wong, who leads MLB second basemen with 1.1 WAR and a 1.051 OPS.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Lefty reliever Andrew Miller was trending favorably for a while, but his last two appearances weren’t shaky. Miller allowed a run in the 8th inning Wednesday. For the season he has a 6.75 ERA with a 14 percent walk rate. Forty six percent of the batters faced by Miller have reached base this season.

SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY:  Nothing today, thanks.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: There are two, both related: (1) yanking Wacha instead of pushing it; and (2) the Cards manager has been excellent in his timing of getting John Gant into a money-time situation. When  Wacha allowed a single open the seventh inning, Shildt immediately went to Gant who quelled the disturbance by getting a ground-ball double play, then a strikeout. In 12 and ⅔ innings this season Gant has allowed one earned run for an 0.71 ERA. Gant has picked up three wins and a save.

BREATHLESS: Can you believe the Cardinals won a game at Miller Park and denied Christian Yelich another opportunity to destroy everything that is good and right and just and innocent pure about St. Louis Cardinals baseball? (Sarcasm alert.)

NL CENTRAL:  Brewers 12-7 … Pirates 10-6 … Cardinals 10-8 … Cubs 8-9 … Reds 5-12.

ON DECK: Off day today for the Cards…. the Mets come to town for three games starting Friday night with a dandy Jacob deGrom vs. Adam Wainwright matchup.

Thanks for reading…

–Bernie