On a record-breaking day in St Louis (no, seriously - the Cardinals broke team records for hits and extra base hits in a home opener), it seems the Cardinals are determined to prove everybody and everything wrong. The unlikley offensive explosion of the previous series continued today against a Brewers team that could most charitably be described as "floundering."
The home opener began with the familiar Clydesdales and Matt Carpenter's "Gallon o' Pecans" leading things off, and then things quickly got interesting.
Michael Wacha took the mound and somehow the rain held off for once. After a bit of a sluggish start where his movement wasn't exactly on, he rebounded to throw 6 scoreless innings with 7 Ks and only a single walk to Domingo Santana in the 3rd. His curve flashed a little bit of brilliance in later innings, with one or two pitches even looking downright fantastic. Brooks Baseball has his vertical movement on his curve so far this year far eclipsing the movement in the previous two years, Again, it's super early yet, but if Wacha can translate the increased movement into an offering that can shore up some of his more recent deficiencies, then let's see where that leads.
Let's just assume Franz Kafka was talking about Jeremy Hazelbaker when he wrote "God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them." The baseball gods gave us a 28-year-old-never-played-in-the-majors nut, and by god, we're going to crack it. (Let's not talk about the sustainability of this unprecedented burst of offense.) I don't know what has gotten into Hazelbaker, but let's just ride this crazy train as long as we can. 4 for 4 tonight, and my gosh is he quick. His first hit was a left field triple that he easily legged out.
Not to be outdone, Aledmys Diaz slides in like "excuse me, you're not the only player no one wanted that can ridiculously outperform expectations". Diaz went 3-5 and topped Hazelbaker's paltry 1.575 OPS with a 1.630 OPS of his own. He also made a superb defensive play in the 8th that earned a "wow" from Mike Matheny. Jim Hayes was out doing his usual home opener interviews with former Cardinals, and Diaz's hot start garnered him some rather lukewarm praise from Ozzie Smith. I think Ozzie thinks the Diaz of the first 6 games might not be the actual Diaz, you guys. To his credit, Diaz is really using the whole field with his hits so far this season and is displaying some decent baserunning as well.
Basically everybody not named Kolten Wong got in on the offensive bonanza today, with Grichuk continuing to confuse the hell out of anyone who has ever seen him play baseball before by going 2-3 with TWO MORE WALKS. I don't know where this sudden discipline has come from, but let's hope it isn't just because we've been facing some AAA-caliber pitching. Holliday (who continues to burst with adequatulance at first defensively, btw) showed off his incredible strength by taking an inside pitch and absolutely mashing it to CF for the first RBI of the game.
The only offense of the game for the Brewers came on an opposite field HR by Chris Carter off Matt Bowman in the 7th. Carter, who Tim McCarver colorfully described as a "penthouse or a warehouse" couldn't get anything else going, nor could the rest of the Brewers lineup. The Brewers did jaw at umpire Bill Welke a bit over the strikezone, and....they weren't entirely wrong.
Defensively, though, the Brewers really brought a lot of their woes on themselves. In one example, Yadier Molina popped up a ball into foul territory that was dropped by Santana. Two pitches later, Molina ripped a double that scored Stephen Piscotty.
Tyler Lyons came in to close out the game and pitched a mostly clean 9th, giving up a single walk.
Overall, I think the Cardinals managed to live up to McCarver's key to the game: "Don’t forget how you’ve done it." (yeah, Tim's keys to the game are in peak form). For the moment, the Cardinals seem to remember how to do everything right, so let's cross our fingers that holds true going forward.