Adam Wainwright was locked in all game. He struck out 9 guys in seven innings and walked none. He did a great job of generating groundballs, with an 80% groundball rate for the game. His curve was terrifying. He was throwing at 96 and 97 mph for the first couple innings. I've probably seen him throw better games in my life, I just can't come up with one right now. His only blemish was a solo homer to Pedro Alvarez.
AJ Burnett looked awful. He struck no one out. He walked four Cardinals. He came into the game with limited control and seemed to lose it entirely by the third inning. He couldn't get a single out in the third inning. He started by walking Adam Wainwright, and it went downhill from there.
The bullpens on both sides were decent. Jeanmar Gomez was called in to clean up Burnett's mess and did a fine job. He went four innings and allowed only 2 unearned runs, though he walked two and struck out none. Vin Mazzaro and Bryan Morris both went for scoreless innings, but it was pretty clear they were just mopping up. For the Cardinals, Carlos Martinez looked excellent in the eighth inning; Trevor Rosenthal locked down the ninth.
The Cardinals feasted on AJ Burnett and a host of defensive miscues. An Adam Wainwright walk and a Matt Carpenter single were followed by a towering Carlos Beltran home run to start the third inning. Beltran's homer was the second-longest from a left-hander in Busch III's history (a 452-footer from Lance Berkman in 2011 still leads). A double from Holliday, a hit by pitch, and two walks drove in another run. Then a Freese single and an error cleared the bases. Only then did Clint Hurdle, manager of the year candidate, decide to pull his starter.
The Cardinals kept getting runners aboard for the rest of the game, but both remaining runs came on errors. They had 10 hits and 6 walks total.
The Pirates' offense was stifled, managing only 4 hits and no walks. The solo home from Alvarez was their only run.
The Cardinals clearly did not care for my bad-mouthing their collective defense this morning, because they put on an outstanding show in the field today. Matt Carpenter charged in from the outfield grass, barehanded a Russell Martin dribbler that barely made it onto the infield dirt, and nabbed the slow-footed catcher at first. Carlos Martinez plucked a grounder off the third base line to catch a Pirate with an astonishing throw. David Freese stabbed a liner just behind third base. Matt Adams had two heads-up plays, including one where he improbably won a foot race to first base. With a couple exceptions, the Cardinals' defense had an excellent day.
The Pirates' defense, by contrast, looked ugly and shaky. The Pirates lodged three errors, and it feels like there were maybe three more serious defensive miscues on their parts. McCutchen overran a ball in the outfield, forcing a pained Matt Adams to chug around from first base. Several throws were dropped or thrown away, allowing Adams and Jay to score in the fifth and sixth innings.
This game was like eating ice cream for dinner. Once you saw run after run without even an out in the third inning, you knew this was destined to be a blowout. When you saw Adam Wainwright in as good form as you'll ever see, you had no doubt.
I wish I could bottle the way this game made me feel and pop it open in February, when I'll probably need it.
If there's any downside at all to this, it's that Gomez's long appearance prevented us from hobbling the Pittsburgh bullpen further. It would have been nice to force 4 or 5 relievers to throw in this game and really wreck things for game 2. But that's looking way back towards this gift horse's tonsils. This was a fun game, as long as you weren't a Pirates fan. You could hardly ask for a better start to this series.