The opening night of the series in Arizona seemed to be a gut-punch similar to several other series this year. Cardinal ace Carlos Martinez allowed two runs over six innings before turning the ball over to the bullpen. After another scoreless appearance from Brett Cecil the wheels came off in the eighth and ninth innings. Trevor Rosenthal had trouble finding the strike zone, loading the bases and allowing Arizona to score two runs to close the gap on the Cardinal lead. Seung Hwan Oh didn’t need to build up anymore drama, allowing a lead off homer to tie the score in the ninth. The Diamondbacks would go on to win the game in the tenth. Another disappointing start to what was obviously a very important series.
While the Rosenthal appearance on Tuesday was frustrating, making the move to have him close games was the correct call. Rosenthal has strikeout stuff and fits the mold of the traditional closer. Oh has been in need of lower leverage situations for a few weeks. The resurgence of Brett Cecil has allowed Mike Matheny to adjust some pieces and possibly shape the bullpen to what we expected in the preseason. The bullpen wasn’t perfect, but closed out a much-needed win on Wednesday night.
Randall Grichuk leads an offensive explosion
Hitless in his first eight at-bats in the series, Randall Grichuk rallied to supply plenty of offense on Thursday. His three run homer in the seventh inning took the lead for the Cardinals. A two run double in the eighth essentially put the game away and gave St.Louis a much-needed series win. Grichuk has launched three homers in five games since returning from Memphis. Another strong second half from Grichuk would give the Cardinals a middle of the order power bat.
Salvaging the series
Winning two out of three games against anyone but Philadelphia is exciting. Beating Arizona, the team with the best home record in baseball, was amazing. Starting off a tough stretch in the schedule with a series win, the Cardinals have given hope to a fan base searching for optimism. They have also given themselves some footing in the quest to win the National League Central. Looking at the standings can be ominous, but the entire N.L. has seemed to lineup a summer long slug fest.
The Nationals head into town
The team with the N.L’s best record comes to St.Louis tonight to start a three game series. The Washington Nationals have been the leagues best team for the first three months. The Cardinals went into Washington in April and were outclassed in the first two games of the series. Mike Leake pitched a gem in the series third game to salvage a St.Louis win. If the Cardinals can somehow walk away with a series win, they may just find themselves right atop the central division standings.
The weekend pitching match-ups:
Friday: Tanner Roark – Mike Leake
Saturday: Gio Gonzalez – Micheal Wacha
Sunday: Max Scherzer – Carlos Martinez.
The Sunday night game will be- can’t miss television- pitting two of the games most exciting starting pitchers. Let us hope Carlos is pitching to finish up the series sweep.
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