Scruggs and the Birds harpoon the Marlins
Xavier Scruggs is doing his best to prove he’s ready for The Show.
In just his second major league start this season, Scruggs hit a game-tying double and scored the game-winning run to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 series-opening win at Miami on Tuesday night. The big first baseman got called up last Friday and produced two hits Saturday, then beat that performance with a 3-for-4 night against the Marlins.
The home-run leader for Triple A Memphis showed some of that power in the fourth, when he lined Jose Urena’s pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double to erase what had been a 3-0 Miami lead. He hit 14 doubles in the minors this season and even got his first in the majors a year ago for St. Louis.
Scruggs hit a leadoff single in the seventh, eventually coming home to score on Mark Reynolds’ infield single off the foot of reliever Sam Dyson. Speed and defense will never be strengths for Scruggs, so his night ended after a single in the eighth when Pete Kozma came in to pinch run.
But an effective, powerful bat could be Scruggs’ ticket to more playing time, especially at first base, where the Cardinals are without Opening Day starter Matt Adams until at least September. Reynolds continues to provide some key hits and play serviceable defense at first, but a rare night off for Matt Carpenter earned Scruggs the start in Miami as Reynolds moved to third.
• Yadi keeps hitting. Yadier Molina added two singles to extend his hit streak to eight games. The catcher reached down in the strike zone to hit a liner to left in the second and ended up with an infield single on a soft grounder to third in the fourth. He’s batting .467 with two home runs during his hit streak.
• Heyward still hot. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton didn’t even move when the ball left Jason Heyward’s bat on its way to the upper deck in the fourth inning. That bomb gave Heyward his eighth home run of the season and extended his hit streak to six games, during which he’s hitting .500.
• Umpire saves the day. Home-plate umpire Adam Hamari unintentionally kept the tying run from scoring for the Marlins in the eighth.
Kevin Siegrist’s pitch up and out of the strike zone went off the glove of Molina and hit Hamari in his chest protector, knocking him backward onto the ground. Meanwhile, the ball rolled out and Molina picked it up to keep Jeff Baker at third base.
• Peralta’s missed chances. Jhonny Peralta wasted a pair of golden opportunities to raise his team-high total of 40 RBIs. The shortstop’s impressive 5-for-12 weekend at Philadelphia didn’t carry over to Miami as he went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. Peralta also grounded into a double play with a runner on third to end the second.
• Wong’s skid. Only a walk saved Kolten Wong from yet another empty night in the leadoff spot. He’s batting .203 in June and has just two hits in his last 20 at-bats after going 0 for 4 in the series opener against the Marlins.
• Martinez’s early woes. Stanton’s two-run home run and Adeiny Hetchevarria’s RBI single in the second put Carlos Martinez in an early 3-0 hole. It was just the third time in 16 starts this season he’s given up more than two runs, despite allowing a team-high nine home runs. Still, he bounced back well to shut down the Marlins while giving up only four more hits. He finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings to improve to 8-3.