(BaseballStL) -- Throughout the 2013 season, the Cardinals scored only two runs against Pittsburgh Pirates ace Francisco Liriano. Saturday, it took them only one half inning in 2014 to almost double that number.
Lead-off hitter Matt Carpenter set the table by hitting a blooper to center field. Matt Holliday then drove him home after Jhonny Peralta drew a walk. Peralta would then score off a sharply hit sacrifice fly from Allen Craig and Matt Adams fought back against the shift again and drove Yadier Molina across the plate.
Manager Mike Matheny was impressed with his hitters approach to the Pirates starter and with their ability to get him to throw more pitches over the middle of the plate.
“I think they did a good job of when [Liriano] did give them something to hit,” Matheny said, “They weren’t fouling them off. They put them in play hard.”
Liriano did settle down after the first inning, retiring thirteen straight batters until the top of the sixth when Molina went yard for the second time on this opening road trip. Adams then beat the shift again and dropped a hit in between the right fielder and shortstop.
The Birds weren’t done as Peralta would add a two run home run just over the left field wall, scoring Carpenter, in the eighth. However, after the game, Matheny did stress the team needed to better capitalize on runners in scoring position.
Cardinals starter Joe Kelly let the Bucs on the board with a two out, bases loaded walk to Russell Martin after trying to pitch around Cardinal killer Pedro Alvarez. He was able to limit the damage, however, by getting Neil Walker to ground into an out.
Kelly’s night ended after 5.1 innings and left two runners on for Carlos Martinez to work around. Martinez was able to get two ground balls to get out of the jam.
“He was hoping to go a little deeper,” said Matheny, “Overall, he did a real nice job. He made real nice pitches when he needed to.”
The bullpen would then hold the Pirates scoreless for the remainder of the game.
“Carlos was ready and he came out and did what we needed him to do,” added Matheny, “He’s got the ability to come in late in the game get out righties just as well as left handed hitters. It does give us a little flexibility.”
The rubber match of the series will showcase Cards ace Adam Wainwright as he takes on Edinson Volquez at 12: 35 p.m. CDT.