By: Jim Tsapelas
Following a rough season start in Pittsburgh against the Pirates, following their sweep of the Braves in Atlanta, the St. Louis Cardinals, wearing the home team white uniforms for the first time of the season, traded their visiting team grey uniforms to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers ten to one; in the first game at Busch for the 2016 MLB Season.
The hit parade which began in Atlanta continued for the Cardinals against the Brewers. The Redbirds hit ten extra base hits, without a home run. At the start of Monday’s game, Jeremy Hazelbaker had been six for fifteen, having scored four runs, with two home runs, four RBI’s, two stolen bases, a batting average of .400, an OBP of .444, and an OPS1.311. In the 2016 home opener, Hazelbaker went four for four, scored a run, had one RBI, and raised his batting average to .526, and his OPS 1.575. In one short week, the twenty-eight year old MLB rookie went from “Who?” to being a household name in St. Louis.
The Cardinals ten runs came on the heels of nineteen hits. Monday the Cardinals struck out seven times; a vast improvement over their Pittsburgh experience. In reality, over a one-hundred sixty-two game season, it is the starting pitching that will sustain the team; any team; including the Redbirds. So far this season, Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake, and Jaime Garcia, have remained question marks, each admitting to knowing what they need to respectively work on. Monday’s starter Michael Wacha, and Saturday’s winner, Carlos Martinez have been sharp in their individual wins and are the only two Cardinal starters’ who have recorded wins. I have faith Wainwright, Leake, and Garcia, will have huge seasons, as they get themselves into mid-season form.
Cardinal shortstop, Aledmys Diaz, a name somewhat familiar to the followers of Cardinal Nation prior to the 2016 season, now he too, similar to Hazelbaker is a household name known in all of St. Louis. Diaz is the second player in Cardinal history to have five extra base hits in their first five MLB games. The first was the MLB HOF’er Enos Slaughter who accomplished the feat in 1938. On Monday, Diaz went two for five, scored one run, with a RBI, and a walk. Diaz raised his season average to .444 and his OBP to 1.500.
Cardinal starter, Wacha, on his way to his first win of the season, worked six innings, allowed four hits, walked one, and struck out seven. In relief, Matt Bowman, a Princeton graduate with a degree in economics, pitched two innings, allowed two hits, one earned run, walked one, struck out one, and gave up a solo home run to the Brewers’ Chris Carter. Tyler Lyons worked the ninth inning walking one and struck out two.
Milwaukee’s starter, Taylor Jungmann, lasted two innings, allowed eight hits, eight earned runs, walked one, and struck out two. The Brewers needed to use four members of their bullpen to finish the game.
On Monday the Cardinals played fundamentally perfect baseball. What a difference a week makes!
Tuesday is a day off for the Redbirds. On Wednesday the Brewers and the Cardinals play the second game of this three game set. The Brewers send Chase Anderson (1-0) to meet the Cards Mike Leake (0-1) in a 7:15 PM CDT game at Busch.
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