The Cardinals were desperate Tuesday for a good pitching performance and they had to turn to an unusual source to get it.
Rookie Michael Wacha, with all of 33 1/3 major league inning worked before the second game of the Reds series, didn't disappoint. He threw six shutout innings, allowing only three hits to a pretty potent Cincinnati lineup.
Unfortunately, the offense had plenty of disappointment to go around for everyone.
Matt Carpenter collected both of the Cardinals hits on the night. And when the Reds got a runner on base against the St. Louis bullpen, manager Dusty Baker put in minor league base-stealing phenom Billy Hamilton to steal second. Redbirds catcher Yadier Molina, anticipating the move, made a strong throw to second base that appeared to be early enough to nail Hamilton. But Molina's throw sailed wide to prevent the tag from beating the speedy rookie to the bag.
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The Reds tried to sacrifice the runner to third to set up a sacrifice fly opportunity. But, after getting two strikes on failed bunt attempts, reliever Seth Maness inexplicably threw a fat pitch over the plate which drove home the only run of the contest.
Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina combined to go 0-for-14 in the middle of the order with eight strikeouts against Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey who dominated the Redbirds to improve to the .500 mark for the season at 10-10. Apparently half the teams he has pitched against had not become aware that Bailey is the Greatest Pitcher in the History of the Universe.
It seems that the Cardinals can no longer afford for manager Mike Matheny to sit back and wait for something to happen on offense. In their last six games the Redbirds have been shut out three times.
This team doesn't hit many home runs. It doesn't steal any bases. It doesn't hit and run. And now it can't even string any hits together. How it can go from so good -- roughing up Atlanta and Cincinnati at home -- to so bad -- getting its butt kicked by the Pirates and Reds on the road -- is completely befuddling.
I know the Cardinals have a reputation for coming together at the last minute over the past few seasons. But I am fresh out of reasons to have faith in this team.