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Cardinals vs. Braves Recap: April 5, 2023

Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It was another tough day to be a Cardinals fan. Things started pretty poorly. As if the drama surrounding Tyler O’Neill and Oli Marmol wasn’t enough, the Braves jumped on the Cardinals early and led 3-0 after one inning. In the second, the Cardinals were once again haunted by the longball. This time, it was Matt Olson who went deep. Olson ended up with three RBI and three hits.

Miles Mikolas didn’t look sharp, though he rallied and got through the fifth and sixth innings relatively quickly. Even the third inning was a step in the right direction. Alas, he gave up all five Atlanta runs. Once again, we were left scratching our heads over why the Cardinals didn’t add starting pitching this offseason. I realize that to many I may sound like a broken record, but it’s the truth. The Cardinals had, and still do have an obvious weakness, and it’s the starting rotation.

The Bullpen looked good. Packy Naughton pitched a scoreless seventh inning before giving way to Chris Stratton. Before the season began, I noticed a lot of fans were down on Stratton. While his spring training wasn’t great, it’s worth noting that upon his arrival in St. Louis last summer, he went 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in 20 appearances. Needless to say, I was shocked at how many people were down on him. But I liked what I saw out of him today, as he gave the Cardinals two scoreless innings.

Jordan Walker provided all the offense today, hitting his first Major League home run in the seventh and driving in a run in the ninth. It was only a matter of time before it happened. But it didn’t save the Cardinals from being swept. Here are a few takeaways from Wednesday’s 5-2 defeat.

It Finally Happened!

Something we knew was coming finally became a formality today, as Walker crushed his first big-league homer to get the Cardinals on the board. Since Opening Day, we’ve been waiting for this moment, but it finally came to fruition. The fact that he did it at Busch Stadium makes it that much sweeter. Hopefully more homers are on the way as the Cardinals try to pull themselves out of their rut.

Bad Vibes

I’m not going to give my take on the situation between O’Neill and Marmol. Obviously, the two are at odds and it’s an unfortunate distraction that the team doesn’t need right now. But as much as I think it was overblown, I think it’s obvious that the vibes really weren’t good today. The weather was nasty, and there just seemed to be a cloud over the club, which clearly caused some problems.

The team really seemed to be flat, save for Walker, and I think it’s very clear that the carryover from last night’s disagreement between the two negatively affected the team today. It’s all everybody on social media was talking about, and both O’Neill and Marmol continued to talk about what took place. Hopefully tomorrow’s off day gives them a chance to smooth things over.

Another Poor Pitching Performance

Once again, the Cardinals failed to record a quality start. I recognize that we’re only six games into the season and that we shouldn’t panic yet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned. There is time for things to get straightened out, but this is exactly what all of us feared would happen if no pitching was added.

And while I do think Miles Mikolas will get better, one thing is clear. The rotation won’t fix itself. The Cardinals need pitching, and they need it now. The rotation has already proven to be the team’s achilles heel through the first six games, and we’re still months away from the trade deadline. But the Cardinals can’t afford to wait to make moves until then. Even if Adam Wainwright pitches like his usual self when he returns, there is no clear No. 1 starter, and it’s obvious that the rotation can’t compete with the NL powerhouses such as the Braves, Padres, Dodgers, and Mets.

The Cardinals will travel to Milwaukee for their first meeting with the red-hot Brewers.