By: Jim Tsapelas
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, Cardinals’ rookie Tommy Pham made sure Manager Mike Matheny and General Manager John Mozeliak put his name into the possible out-field candidates for post-season play.
With an already crowded slate of outfielders, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk, Jason Heyward, Matt Holiday, Jon Jay, and Stephen Piscotty, Pham went three for four on Wednesday against the Brewers, scoring two runs, with four RBI’s, and two home runs. Joining Pham in the home run exhibition was Matt Carpenter who hit his twenty-second homer of the season.
Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia (9-5) proved the game of baseball, in general, and pitching, in particular, can be a game of confusing opposites. Garcia did not allow too many balls to leave the infield. Balls leaving the infield were knocked toward the out-field wall or over the wall. The southpaw forced twelve ground outs, and authored four strike outs. Sixteen of Garcia’s nineteen outs did not leave the reach of the Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina, or the reach of an infielder.
Pham got the Redbirds off to an early lead in the second inning. With Kolton Wong on base, Pham hit a line drive home run to center. It was Pham’s third home run of the year. Score: Cardinals two-Brewers nothing. In the top of the third Carpenter hit a solo blast on a line drive also to center; making the score three to nothing. In the top of the fourth, in a repeat of the second inning, with Wong on board, Pham hits another line drive home run to center for his fourth home run of the season and his second home run of the game. Score: Cardinals five-Brewers nothing.
On Sunday, in his last at bat, Pham hit a home run off of Cincinnati’s Sam LeCure in the sixth inning; Pham was taken out of the game in a double-switch Sunday. The Cardinals were off Monday. Pham did not play on Tuesday. Pham’s two home runs on Wednesday happened in his first-two at bats. Since 1974, Pham is only the seventh Cardinal to hit three home runs in three consecutive at-bats. Albert Pujols accomplished this feat on three occasions. Troy Glaus, Lance Berkman, Ray Lankford and Mark Whitten, each performed this feat once. Pham, however, is the first rookie to do this.
The Brewers lit-up the score board in the bottom of the fourth. Khris Davis scored on an Elian Herrera single to right. With Domingo Santana on board, Brewer’s catcher Martin Maldonado hit his fourth home run of the season. Score: Cardinals five-Brewers four.
Garcia pitched six and one-third innings, pitching in and out of trouble in the home half of the fourth. He allowed eight hits, four earned runs, walked one, struck out four, and allowed the Maldonado home run. Garcia threw a total of ninety-nine pitches; sixty-five of which were strikes.
The bullpen preserved the lead and victory for Garcia. Seth Maness pitched two-thirds of an inning to finish out the seventh; picking up his eighteenth hold for the season. Jonathan Broxton threw the eighth inning, striking out one; and earning his seventeenth hold of the year. Cardinals’ closer Trevor Rosenthal threw fifteen pitches in the ninth, eleven of which were for strikes, striking out the side, to earn his forty-fifth save of the season.
Brewers’ starter Wily Peralta (5-9) lasted four innings, allowed six hits, five earned runs, walked two, struck out two, and gave up the home runs to Pham and Carpenter.
With the Cardinals’ win and with the Chicago Cubs defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in twelve innings on Wednesday, the NL Central Division finds St. Louis (91-54) with a four game lead over Pittsburgh, and with a seven game lead over Chicago. Pittsburgh holds a three game lead over Chicago in the NL Wild Card race.
Thursday the Cards go for the sweep over the Brewers. Taking the hill for St. Louis is the veteran John Lackey (11-9), meeting the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson (11-12) at Miller Park.
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