Cardinals look to Weaver to halt stretch of opponents’ high-scoring games
ST. LOUIS — Weak pitching has the St. Louis Cardinals on the verge of tying a club record it would rather not.
When the Cardinals fell 12-4 to the San Diego Padres in the series opener Tuesday night, they allowed five or more runs for the 12th consecutive contest. (It was their fifth straight allowing six or more runs.)
If the Cardinals (63-62) make it 13 straight Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, they will tie a franchise record set in 1929 and duplicated in 2003.
“Guys are just going to have to pitch their way through it and get outs,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
The Cardinals hope to get a quality start from young Luke Weaver (1-1, 3.31 ERA), who gets the call in place of injured veteran Adam Wainwright. Weaver will make his third start of the year.
The right-hander relieved Wainwright on Thursday night in Pittsburgh, tossing two shutout innings and helping the Cardinals start a comeback from a 5-0 deficit that resulted in an 11-7 victory. This will be Weaver’s first career outing against San Diego.
The St. Louis offense got a lift from right fielder Stephen Piscotty, who celebrated his return to the 25-man roster Tuesday night by belting his first homer since June 18. Piscotty is 4-for-7 in two games since returning to the club as its 26th man for the Sunday night Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa.
“If I’m just hitting the ball hard, I’m happy,” Piscotty said. “Lucky for me, hits are falling, so it’s been great to see it out of the gate.”
Piscotty and the Cardinals will face veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (11-8, 3.98 ERA). He last worked in a 2-1 loss to Washington on Thursday night, lasting five innings and getting a no-decision despite allowing only a run and three hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
Chacin is 0-4 with a 5.81 ERA in five career games (four starts) against St. Louis, losing his only start at Busch Stadium in May 2013.
The Padres would like to see more at-bats like the one Carlos Asuaje had in the third inning Tuesday. He had two hits and scored twice in the game, but the at-bat that had manager Andy Green talking was the one that saw him walk back to the dugout with bat in hand after swinging and missing at a 92-mph fastball from Lance Lynn for the first out of the third inning.
That’s because it took Lynn 13 pitches to retire Asuaje, enabling the lineup’s remainder to get a better look at the right-hander’s offerings. It also might have taxed Lynn to the point that he hit the next batter, Jose Pirela, before giving up a three-run double to Yangervis Solarte.
It is those types of lengthy plate appearances that Green hopes his team can construct more consistently.
“Those grind at-bats can change the trajectory of a game,” Green said. “Even though (Asuaje) struck out, it was still a great at-bat. It can wear a pitcher down.”
In Green’s view, another good sign for the Padres (56-69) was that they scored seven runs before belting a homer. They have been overly reliant on going yard to plate their runs, but that wasn’t the case Tuesday night.
San Diego has cracked 154 homers. Yet even with the offensive explosion in the series opener, when the Padres tied their season high for runs in a game, the club is averaging less than four runs per game.
“It hasn’t been who we’ve been for the most part,” Green said of the victory, “but we gave ourselves opportunities to plate a lot of runs. We kept scoring, we came up with big hit after big hit.”