In a ballgame suggestive of how the Cardinals expected to play all year, Adam Wainwright threw seven solid innings, Kolten Wong banged a triple and Greg Garcia executed a perfect suicide squeeze as the Redbirds beat Milwaukee 3-0 before 40,000 wet fans at Busch Stadium.
Yadier Molina added another milestone, becoming just the 34th catcher in baseball history to have at least 1,500 hits.
Wainwright scattered seven hits and was helped along by three double plays that crushed any hopes of a Brewer rally. He fanned five and walked two to move his record to 7-5 and lowering his ERA below 5. Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless eighth aided by the fourth double play and Seung-hwan Oh finished the business.
“I thought my stuff was pretty mediocre today,” Wainwright said after the game. “The ball was moving but I didn’t have my best location. I had way better stuff against Kansas City (a 6-2 loss).” He said he found out early in the first inning that if he tried to get extra velocity on his pitches, he was pulling off, hurting his laser-like command. “So I tried to get ground balls.” He ddi that very well, enabling the Cards to turn three twin killings.
“Adam was very good today,” said a calm and relaxed Mike Matheny after the game. “When he needed to make a pitch, he made it and our defense was very good today. Defense comes down to confidence,” he said, and with that comes an expectation that they can make the play.
Kolten Wong’s triple with two men on in the fourth inning skipped past Brewers right fielder Ramon Flores, scoring Yadier Molina and Stephen Piscotty. Greg Garcia dropped down a perfect suicide squeeze, scoring Wong and the Redbirds led 3-0.
“I’m not trying to do too much (since returning from a short stay in Memphis),” Wong said after the game. “This has been a learning experience for me.” Wong ranged all the way to the shortstop side of second base on one play, joking with Garcia that playing the outfield stretched out his throwing arm and helped him make that long throw. Wong said he recognizes the Matt Carpenter is the every day second baseman now, but wanted to show the Cardinals he can play anywhere.
Molina’s fourth-inning single on a hit-and-run, putting him in elite company. He also holds the Cardinal record for all-time games played (1,510), starts (1,448) and innings caught.
The Cards played errorless ball as just a handful of the announced crowd of better than 40,000 remained at the end. The game was delayed by 1:32 by rain, which
peppered fans on and off all afternoon but caused no further delays. Those who stayed saw the Cardinals play the kind of consistent baseball they expected. According to Wainwright, it was the result of how poorly they had been playing and the realization that they are a much better team than they showed.
“We didn’t need someone standing on top of the ping pong table (telling us we had to play better). We didn’t need a team speech. Those games (2-10 against American League teams) were an eye opener. We knew we had to get better.”
Weather permitting, the Cards go for the sweep Sunday at 1:15 p.m.