Here’s your Daily Redbird Review.
(I’ll shut up now.)
FIRST PITCH: After being swept at Wrigley Field over the weekend, the Cardinals rebounded Monday night with a 4-1 victory at Miami to get back to .500 at 32 and 32.
BASEBALL HERO: Michael Wacha was fantastic in his return to the starting rotation. It was an interesting matchup in that Wacha came into the game with a 6.30 ERA. And he was facing a Marlins team that has the worst offense in baseball, ranking dead last in average runs per game, slugging percentage, and OPS. Who would take control of this game? The answer: Wacha. He pitched six scoreless innings and gave up six hits, five of which were singles.
A refreshed Wacha reached 95 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball. He walked only two. And he induced three double plays as part of his haul of 12 ground-ball outs. It was a terrific outing, but going forward Wacha must show he can do this consistently — and against better lineups.
Related note: this was only the fourth time in the last 37 games in which the Cardinals got a start of at least six innings with no earned runs allowed by a starting pitcher.
TURNING POINT: The Cardinals were clinging to a 1-0 lead and had two runners on with no outs in the sixth inning when Kolten Wong decided, on his own, to challenge the Marlins with a bunt. These plays usually make little sense because the Cardinals already had a runner in scoring position. But Wong’s strategy worked, with Miami’s catcher fetching the bunt and sailing a wild throw into the air space above first base. Two runs scored on the error, and the Cardinals would get one more on a sac fly by Harry Bader for a 4-0 lead.
HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Nice to see Jordan Hicks pitch with authority after a stretch marked by inactivity and inefficient performances. Hicks did give up a hit in the ninth, but struck out two and closed the Marlins out on a tidy 15 pitches. No walks.
Marcell Ozuna was the catalyst again, with two hits including a double, a walk and two runs scored … Yairo Munoz got a a rare start and drove in Ozuna for the first run with a two-out double.
LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Jose Martinez started in right field and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. He’s in an extreme slump, batting .105 with no extra-base hits in 42 plate appearances since May 18 … the Cardinals weren’t exactly beasts on offense in the opener in Miami, posting only four hits and striking out eight times against Marlins pitching … since May 2 the Cardinals are 29th in the majors in slugging percentage (.366), and 28th in OPS (.669) and have performed 20 percent below league average in park adjusted runs created… the Cards’ offense has averaged only 3.1 runs over the last 13 games.
SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY: The Cards manager put Kolten Wong in the No. 5 lineup spot last night. Considering that Wong is slugging only .372 for the season and .296 since the end of April, I don’t think Wong is what you’re looking for in the 5 hole. But it worked out because of Wong’s atomic bunt in the sixth.
GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: After playing in all 63 games, shortstop Pauly DeJong finally got a chance to exhale on Monday. And I’m not just saying this because the dude doubled in the first run, but Yairo Munoz needs to play more. There is simply no reason to wear down the DeJong — he needs an occasional rest day.
BREATHLESS: I know the Cardinals have been a rather unexciting baseball team, winning only 12 of their last 34 games. But my goodness, that scene in Miami … how depressing. Monday’s game was played before 6,585 fans, and the Marlins are last in the majors in home attendance with an average of 9,417. The Marlins have scored only nine total runs while losing five in a row. What a horrendous franchise.
ON DECK: Dakota Hudson goes for the Redbirds tonight at 6:10 STL time (Fox Sports Midwest.) He’s been the Cardinals’ best starting pitcher since the end of April, crafting a 2.59 ERA in his last seven starts, with a 65 percent ground-ball rate. Hudson’s overall ground-ball rate of 61.5 percent this season is tops among MLB starters that have pitched at least 65 innings this season.
Thanks for reading …