The Cardinals began a series with "hovering around .500 but possibly still dangerous" Central foes the Pittsburgh Pirates this Labor Day, opening a month that is critical to the Cardinals playoff hopes. If they can play the remainder of the month similarly to this, I have pretty high hopes, honestly.
By the 2nd inning, the Cardinals bats were already making a statement. Adam Wainwright continued to pull XBHs out of his apparently inexhaustible supply, scoring Jeremy Hazelbaker. He would be followed by a Stephen Piscotty double, which scored both Waino and Matt Carpenter.
The Pirates bit back in the bottom of the 2nd. A single by Francisco Cervelli and a double by Josh Bell would plate two runs. A few hanging curveballs by Wainwright looked to possibly open the door to additional scoring, but the Cards would rally to get the last out in the inning and shut down the Pirates offense. For a good portion of the game, the Cardinals seemed to be getting squeezed a bit on the strike zone (to be fair, it happened a bit to the Pirates as well), but thanks to the potent offense, they were able to squelch any major threats by the Pirates. The strikezone plot for RHH:
Although Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl would be lifted after the second inning, the Cardinals bats continued unabated. Kolten Wong would redouble his efforts to stay on the starting roster by taking a low fastball for a single that would score Randal Grichuk.
In the 4th inning, the Cardinals would widen the gap. Home Run Machine Jedd Gyorko got things started with a solo shot. He would be followed by a Tommy Pham RBI groundout. Wainwright would continue to help his own case by plating two more on an RBI single.
The fifth inning saw Matt Adams take one deep off lefty Jeff Locke, in an unusual turn of events. Adams came into the game 5 for his last 32, but would finish the day 2-6 to pull his line up a bit.
Despite an Andrew McCutchen 2 run home run in the bottom of the 5th, the Pirates would never close the scoring gap. The Cardinals would score two more off the bats of Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta in the 8th, and the Pirates would would match those two with two more runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth, but the wide offensive gap persisted through the end of the game.
Notes: Carson Kelly doubled in his first at-bat with the big club and would come around to score.
Stephen Piscotty would be lifted from the game as a precautionary measure after being hit in the hand. Benjamin Hochmann later reported that X-rays were negative for any fractures.
Jonathan Broxton pitched an essentially clean 6th and 7th, with Miguel Socolovich coming in to mop up the last two innings (honestly a tiny bit surprised to not see Jerome Williams, tbh).
And yes, VEB was mentioned on the broadcast w/r/t Wainwright's pitching.
Cardinals and Pirates do it again tomorrow.