Three takeaways from the Cardinals’ 1-0 loss to the Reds Tuesday night… Speed makes the difference
First, the Reds gained the lead because of the footspeed of rookie Billy Hamilton. Dusty Baker summoned Hamilton to pinch-run for Ryan Ludwick after Ludwick led off the Reds’ seventh with a single. After reliever Seth Maness threw over several times, Hamilton took off for second. A good throw by Yadier Molina probably would have stopped Hamilton but the throw was high and just to the right of the base. Molina, who could not stifle a hint of a grin after the encounter (there’ll probably be a few more), may well have rushed his throw because of Hamilton’s speed. After Todd Frazier muffed a couple of tries to sacrifice Hamilton to third, he took a good changeup from Maness and lined it to left to easily drive in Hamilton for the game’s only run.
In the ninth, it was the speed of Aroldis Chapman’s fastball that finished off the Cardinals. Working for the first time since Aug. 24, Chapman showed no rust, but the rest surely seemed to do him some good. With his fastball reaching 103 mph, Chapman needed only 14 pitches to strike out Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig to earn his 34th save. Wacha steps up
By working six shutout innings, rookie right-hander Michael Wacha did everything he could to earn himself another start in five days, which would be Sunday at Busch against the Pirates.
Wacha walked leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo and the next hitter, Brandon Phillips, drilled a 93-mph fastball to shortstop that could have led to early trouble. But Daniel Descalso turned the shot into a 6-4-3 double play that went a long way to calm Wacha.
His defense helped him a few more times, including on a nice play up the middle by second baseman Kolten Wong and a long running catch in center by Jon Jay. Working quickly, Wacha walked two and struck out three while throwing only 80 pitches before Mike Matheny decided he had pitched enough.
“We couldn’t have asked him to do anything more than he did,” Matheny said in postgame comments televised by FOX Sports Midwest. “Very impressive.”
While Wacha said he didn’t know if he was on a pitch count, Matheny said, “He was about where we thought he was going to need to be.” Bailey was even better
After Reds right-hander Homer Bailey held the Cardinals scoreless for 7 1/3 innings last Thursday, he said, “It’s about time.”
“With me and the Cardinals,” Bailey continued, “I’ve had some really good ones and some that were not pretty. There’s really no in-between.”
There was no in-between again Tuesday night. This was the good Homer. Bailey looked even sharper Tuesday night than in Cincinnati’s 10-0 blowout victory last week. He gave up only two hits, walked one and struck out eight before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Three of the strikeouts came in three at-bats against the previously hot Matt Holliday, who flailed at strike three sliders in the dirt in his first two times up. In his third at-bat, Holliday tried to hold off on another slider about three inches off the ground but did not check his swing.
For Bailey, that’s 14 1/3 scoreless innings in the past week against St. Louis. But his first two starts against the Cardinals this season weren’t pretty. In those, Bailey allowed 11 runs in a total of 10 1/3 innings. If he starts a fifth time against the Cardinals this season, it will be in the post-season. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at email@example.com.