Game Report: Cardinals 10, Reds 4

By Rob Rains

One of the ways the Cardinals believe they can improve from last year is the performance of their starting pitchers.

In the first time through the rotation, the five starters have shown that could definitely be the case.

Michael Wacha became the last of the starters to pitch on Saturday, and he turned in another solid performance, allowing just one run on three hits over six innings in the Cardinals’ win over the Reds at Busch Stadium.

In the first five games of the season, the Cardinals starters posted a 1.70 ERA, allowing just six runs over 31 2/3 innings. None of the starters allowed more than two runs.

“You see the other four starters go out there and dominate, you want to go out there and back it up,” Wacha said. “The expectations in this clubhouse are high.”

They should be, said manager Mike Matheny.

“It’s a nice trend,” Matheny said of the first round of starts. “There’s no reason they can’t continue it. I know that’s what they are expecting. It sets the tone for our club.”

The offense finally broke out to make Wacha’s job easier on Saturday as shortstop Aledmys Diaz hit two homers, driving in four runs, the first multi-homer game of his career. Wacha even chipped in an RBI single in the fourth – his first hit since June 4 of last year (his only hit in 39 at-bats in 2016) and his first RBI since July 8, 2015.

The win allowed the Cardinals to avoid starting 1-4 for the first time since 2007.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Diaz became the 10th shortstop in Cardinals history to hit two homers in a game with his solo shot in the first and three-run homer in the fourth. It’s the 14th time it has been done by a shortstop in franchise history … After taking the 6-1 lead, the Cardinals blew the game open with three runs in the sixth when they had only two hits, one a two-run single by Jedd Gyorko, as they took advantage of four walks. The Cardinals drew 12 walks in the game, their highest total since drawing 13 on May 22, 2011 against Kansas City … Adam Wainwright had a pinch-hit single in the eighth and later scored on a groundout by Kolten Wong … Wainwright is now 5-of-19 as a pinch-hitter in his career, but three of those hits came in 2007.

On the mound: Wacha had not pitched six innings in a game since July 16 of last year. He walked one and struck out six … Matt Bowman worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning before Broxton gave up a two-run homer to Scott Schebler in the eighth and Tuivailala allowed a solo shot to Eugenio Suarez in the ninth.

Key stat: As good as the starters have been, it’s been another story for the bullpen in the first week. The home runs off Broxton and Tuivailla increased the total for the bullpen to five homers allowed in their first 13 1/3 innings. Combined, they have allowed 11 earned runs, which is an ERA of 7.43 … The starters have yet to allow a home run.

Worth noting: Matt Adams was the fourth cleanup hitter in the Cardinals first five games. They have not had a home run out of that spot in the lineup since Sept. 6 of last year, by Adams, a span of 30 games … Adams got the start in left after Stephen Piscotty showed up Saturday morning with a sore knee, which he said he hurt on a slide Friday night … After going 4-for-28 in their first four games with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals were 4-for-15 on Saturday … Trevor Rosenthal threw live batting practice before the game and could be activated from the DL when the Cardinals go on the road on Monday.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals close out the first homestand of the season at 1:15 on Sunday. Carlos Martinez, who pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings in the opener, will make his second start while Scott Feldman will pitch for the Reds.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Post-Game Interviews

Cardinals Audio: Matheny, Wacha, Diaz