Cardinals wrap up long road trip with happy flight out of San Francisco
Jul 3, 2014 at 7:51p ET
What a difference a day can make. On Wednesday morning, the Cardinals woke up having a miserable road trip. By Thursday evening, they were happy flighting it home to St. Louis.
Of course, that's what two wins in 21 hours can do for a team that had been shut out in three of its previous five games. "We found a way to salvage the road trip and finish on a good note," Matt Carpenter said in an interview shown on the Fox Sports Midwest post-game show.
Their 7-2 victory over the Giants Thursday afternoon was a complete team effort, not at all like the Adam Wainwright show on Wednesday.
Carlos Martinez turned in his best start, the bullpen did not allow an earned run in four innings and six players scored at least once for St. Louis, which finished 5-5 on its first trip to the West this season.
Following Wainwright's 2-0 gem on Wednesday night, the Cardinals wasted little time taking the lead on a sunny afternoon. Carpenter led off by reaching base for the fourth straight game, but this time he was not stuck there. It looked like he might be until Jhonny Peralta lofted a two-out home run into the left-field seats, giving the Cardinals their first first-inning runs since June 18.
The Cardinals return home Friday night but the schedule does not get any easier. After three games against the upstart Marlins, they play host to the surging Pirates for four games and then travel to first-place Milwaukee for their final three contests before the All-Star break.
-- Carlos Martinez. Without question, his fourth start was his best yet. He still didn't work deep --- five innings, 88 pitches --- but his slider was as sharp as it's been this season, his fastball reached 99 mph and his command was on. He gave up only one run on four hits, walked one and struck out a career-best six. Four of the strikeouts ended with sliders that were low and out of the zone but the Giants still swung. He got Buster Posey to end the fifth with the bases loaded, punctuating the strikeout with a big thump of his chest on his way to the dugout.
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"He had a consistent smooth delivery," Matheny said. "It looked more like pitching than just raring back and seeing how nasty he could be."
Oh yeah, Martinez also delivered at the dish, too, singling in two runs for the first RBI of his career.
-- Taking advantage. When Giants first baseman Adam Duvall botched what should have been a double play with a bad throw, the Cardinals made the Giants pay. Instead of the Cardinals' fourth inning ending on the play, they had runners on the corners with one out. Jon Jay doubled in one run and then, with the infield in, Martinez shot a hard grounder past the shortstop for a two-run single. The three runs gave the Cardinals a commanding 5-1 lead.
-- Yadier Molina. Continuing to put his June gloom (.210) behind him, Molina reached base four times and had his first three-hit game since April 23. He has his batting average up to .287, raising in 10 points since Sunday.
-- Situational hitting. Sure they were happy to score seven runs, but the Cardinals could have had a few more if they had executed one of the game's most important fundamental hitting plays: Driving in a runner on third with less than two outs. Four times the Cardinals failed in their attempts: Adams struck out in the first, Carpenter popped up in the sixth and Molina and Mark Ellis struck out in the seventh. Oscar Taveras would have failed, too, when he hit a grounder to the pitcher in the seventh but a bad throw allowed in a run.
-- Matt Adams vs. left-handers. In his first time facing Madison Bumgarner, Adams struck out twice and grounded to first, dropping his batting average against lefties to .177 (11 for 62). Against right-handers, though, he produced as usual with a double down the left-field line that led to the Cardinals' final run.
-- Martinez's underhanded throws. It might be nitpicking, but the young right-hander got a little too casual with a toss to first base after fielding a grounder. He got the out but his throw looked more like something you'd see from a slow-pitch softball pitcher. Martinez was plenty far away from first that he could have thrown overhand, too. While no harm was done, it's worth pointing out because it wasn't the first time he almost muffed a simple throw.