When the season started, the general consensus among baseball prognosticators was that the St. Louis Cardinals would have great pitching -- but the offense would leave something to be desired.
So, Naturally, through the first 11 games of 2016, the Redbirds led baseball in the average number of runs scored per game. But their starting pitching has been hit and miss.
In their 12th game of the season Sunday, the Cardinals stuck a little more closely to the script with a nip and tuck 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium.
While ace Adam Wainwright continues to struggle to find his footing, Michael Wacha turned in a second strong game in a row Sunday.
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Wacha pitched six frames, allowing three runs -- but only one of them earned -- while scattering seven hits.
Wacha gave up several hard-hit balls early that fortunately found the gloves of his St. Louis teammates. But he gained momentum as the game went out, lowering his season ERA to 2.76 as he struck out five Reds and walked one.
The only bad inning Wacha had was the fourth when he gave up two of the three runs he surrendered.
Greg Garcia, who made the start at shortstop, booted a ball off the bat of Brandon Phillips to put a runner on base. Jay Bruce singled on a dribbler that Wacha picked up -- and then threw away to allow Phillips to score.
Devin Mesoraco singled to score Bruce. But then Wacha got Adam Duvall to hit into a double play to limit the damage.
While the Cardinals seemed more like the team people expected to see on Sunday, they still did some things against the grain.
The Birds were said to be woefully lacking in home run power when the season started. But two of their four homers came on long balls off the bats of Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter. St. Louis has 21 homers through 12 games.
The other unexpected situation came as backup catcher Eric Fryer -- starting in place of Yadier Molina who was issued his eighth Gold Glove Award and his fourth Platinum Glove -- doubled twice with three hits and a walk in four plate appearances.
Fryer is 6-for-6 on the season.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Fryer
Cardinals Play of the Game: Fryer’s game-winning double in the eighth that scored Aledmys Diaz from first base.
Lowlight: The Cardinals’ sloppy fourth inning that temporarily put them behind 3-2. Fortunately, they limited their self-inflicted struggles to one inning and played otherwise solid defense.