(BaseballStL) — In the latest installation of quicksand-like innings for young Cardinal starters, Michael Wacha’s bid for his first road win of the season was undone in the fourth inning against Tampa Bay.
With the Rays posting 31 scoreless innings, Wacha had the upper hand Tuesday.
He had cruised through three no-hit innings, walking two but otherwise controlling the Tampa Bay bats.
The fourth began with a soft groundout and a pair of looped singles by James Loney and Ben Zobrist, but a second weak out looked to paint a familiar picture for the hapless Rays.
Then, Matt Joyce broke the spell.
The .263-hitting outfielder got ahead 2-0 before working a full count. On the sixth pitch, he singled into center. The ball would have scored Loney, but a bobble by Peter Bourjos allowed Zobrist to come around for a second run.
"He was getting outs early but still his rhythm wasn’t right,” Mike Matheny said to reportersin Tampa Bay, indicating the starter struggled most of the day. “He just never really found his fastball for whatever reason. His timing was a little off and it was a fight for him.”
The fight continued as Wacha walked the next two hitters. He got Desmond Jennings down 0-2 before the 27-year-old singled home two more runs to give the Rays their first lead of the series.
It was Wacha’s first game in which he surrendered more than three runs, and it meant he remained winless on the road in 2014.
He has struck out only one hitter in his last two outings, and allowed 11 hits and five walks to the Royals and the Rays in 11 innings.
Matheny said Wacha felt good all day, but couldn’t find his command low in the zone, making it difficult to establish is go-to fastball/change up combo. He now falls to 4-5 on the year, and the Cardinals drop to 34-32.