The St. Louis Cardinals have been on a role as of late. On Tuesday, with young star pitcher Michael Wacha on the mound, they looked to continue that impressive streak of wins to five, as he faced off against Johnathan Niese and the New York Mets.
With help from porous defense by New York, the Cardinals won 5-2 to win their first straight.
In the first inning, Wacha shut down Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright with help from the defense (namely Allen Craig), who have improved a lot during the past few games. Despite a Jon Jay base hit early in the bottom half of the first, the Cardinals offense failed to score in the inning. Defense and pitching continued to shine for the Cardinals through the next inning as well.
In the 3rd inning, Yadier Molina stood at the plate, coming off a recent hitting slump. And in one swing of the bat, he put the Cardinals on top. He hit his sixth home run of the year off the left field wall, giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
Wacha began dealing, getting through the Mets’ struggling lineup with ease.
That is, until the 4th inning. Wright launched a good pitch off Wacha and sent it flying to the same wall where Molina hit his home run just an inning earlier. With that, the game was tied at 1-1.
Going past the halfway point in the game, both teams were engaged in a duel between Niese and Wacha.
In the sixth inning, the Mets fell apart. Following a double by Jhonny Peralta, Murphy made a miscue trying to throw out Daniel Descalso. Pinch hitting for Wacha, Kolten Wong singled to center, scoring Peralta. During the next at-bat, Wong stole second after a missed tag by the fielder as the catcher Anthony Recker looked on in disbelief. Peter Bourjos later reached on an infield single that scored Descalso, which made it 5-1.
From there, Sam Freeman took the reigns on the mound and shut down New York’s bats. The Mets couldn’t score a run in the 7th or 8th innings, as Freeman pitched very well throughout those two innings.
In the ninth, Jason Motte came in to close out the game, but struggled, allowing a home run off the bat of Lucas Duda. Pat Neshek relieved Motte and proceeded to close out the game, and the Cardinals take the series against the Mets, looking for the sweep tomorrow.
The Cardinals have heated up the past two weeks, both on the mound and at the plate. Offense has started to pick up and play more consistent, and the starting pitching has been backed up pretty well by the young bullpen relievers. With five straight wins, they continue to climb the NL Central wall in an attempt to catch up to the Brewers, who have had their share of struggles as of late.
Wacha gets his fifth win, improving to 5-5, all wins coming at home. Matt Adams came into the game as a pinch-hitter and got a single, which led to him going to second after another Mets’ fielding error.
The Cardinals have a lot of momentum going into late June. This is the kind of momentum they’ve needed for awhile, and with the All-Star break less than a month away, it’s a good time to have it.
(Photo Credit/AP: Jeff Roberson)