Preview: Cardinals get offense clicking at just the right time
The St. Louis Cardinals offense appears to have awoken from its slumber at a most opportune time.
The Cardinals will look to pick up their 10th win in 13 games and potentially pad their lead atop the NL Central as they finish their series with the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.
The Cardinals picked up a 4-3 win Wednesday night and an additional game on the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost to San Diego, and lead the division by two games with 10 to play.
“We’re playing good ball at the right time,” said pitcher Adam Wainwright, who had three of the Cardinals’ 10 hits en route to his 17th win.
After hitting .164 in a five-game span from Sept. 10-14, St. Louis has bounced back with 54 hits — 17 of them for extra bases — while batting .355 and scoring 29 runs in the last four.
Used mostly as a reliever in August, Michael Wacha (3-1, 2.81 ERA) has fought his way into the rotation and hopes to benefit from St. Louis’ resurgent offense. The rookie right-hander had pitched 13 shutout innings in his first two starts back in the rotation and eventually extended it to 23 2/3 overall before the third of his season-high four walks led to him allowing two fifth-inning runs in a 4-1 loss to Seattle on Saturday.
“He’s trying to give me a free out, bunting the ball,” said Wacha, who walked pitcher James Paxton before allowing a two-run double to Franklin Gutierrez in the fifth. “It’s not acceptable, walking the pitcher. Anybody really.”
This will be his first appearance versus Colorado.
Roy Oswalt (0-6, 7.71) had his best performance of the season Saturday, allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-2 loss to Arizona.
It was his second start back from a strained left hamstring that sidelined him for two months.
“Got a little bit of the velocity back,” Oswalt said after extending from 66 pitches in his previous start to 83. “I still don’t have 100 percent of my legs. I backed off a bit in the second trying to throw some balls down in the zone.”
It has been a trying season for the right-hander, who is in line to make the fewest starts of his 13-year major league career.
“Everyone else got to play seven months,” Oswalt said. “I’ve been playing just two months trying to come back in the thick of things.”
After starting September with six home runs in the first five games, the Rockies (69-84) have three in their last 11.
Colorado has stranded 20 runners over two losses to St. Louis, including five in the final two frames Wednesday.
“The moment was great,” said the retiring Todd Helton, who struck out against Edward Mujica with the bases loaded to end the game. “You couldn’t have asked for a better moment. You could’ve asked for a lot better result.”
Michael Cuddyer, the NL leader with a .331 average, is day-to-day with wrist and forearm injuries sustained Wednesday.