The rain finally ended and the St. Louis Cardinals were able to complete an abbreviated series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.
A 5-4 loss was bad enough, but injuries to right fielder Stephen Piscotty and center fielder Dexter Fowler further dampened the Cardinals’ mood.
Piscotty suffered a strained right hamstring when he grounded out to third base in the second inning. He grabbed his leg as he crossed the bag, then walked gingerly off the field.
Piscotty downplayed the injury.
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“I had an MRI and I had a very, very mild muscle spasm,” Piscotty said. “It’s good news. I’ll be evaluated in the morning and go from there. Everything is encouraging after the fact.
“I hadn’t felt anything like that in a while, so it kind of shocked me a little bit. There is some tightening in it, but there’s no damage. Walking around now, it’s decent. It’s a little sore. It’s going to be a pain-tolerance thing.”
Fowler strained his right shoulder when he landed awkwardly on it in left-center after being unable to make a diving catch on Hernan Perez’s double in the third.
Neither player traveled with the team to Atlanta. Tommy Pham was pulled from Class AAA Memphis’ game Thursday and will replace one of the injured players. The Cardinals will determine Friday which other player to add to their roster.
It is likely that Piscotty and Fowler both will be placed on the 10-day disabled list. Both players were still being evaluated after the loss to Milwaukee.
“We won’t know (the severity) until (Friday),” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who reconfigured the outfield by putting Aledmys Diaz in left and Jose Martinez in right field while sliding Randal Grichuk into center. Diaz, who had never played the outfield, had one putout. Greg Garcia played shortstop for Diaz.
“We didn’t have a lot of other options,” Matheny said. “We believe (Diaz) moves well enough to be able to cover. We were just in one of those situations where we had to put somebody out there. We trust that Diaz can get the job done. Fortunately, he didn’t get a lot of work.”
Gametime temperature was 50 degrees, although the field was in good condition despite two consecutive days of heavy rain that caused flooding in St. Louis and metro-east.
“It was cold and it’s still damp,” Matheny said. “We’re always concerned what that might end up being. It’s kind of our worst nightmare when you see a couple of guys (injured). Dexter was more the effort toward a ball in the air than it was the conditions.
“The cold weather, more than anything else, you could point to as far as Stephen goes. ... He was trying to go back out there and show he could jog. We didn’t let him. Once you tweak the hamstring, testing it is not a great option. I think he was just concerned and frustrated.”
Adam Wainwright (6.30 ERA) was unable to hold a 3-0 lead and allowed four runs on 10 hits in five innings. He threw 101 pitches and took a no-decision.
As bad as Wainwright felt about another disappointing performance, he felt worse for the team losing two players to injuries.
“I hate to see Stephen and Dexter leave the game. Those are two of our best players,” Wainwright said. “Hopefully, they’ll get better soon.”
Piscotty opened the game batting second for the first time this season and the 80th time in his career. He’s hit second more than in any other spot in the order, and had batted .293 with an .848 OPS in his previous 79 assignments.
In his last seven games before Thursday, Piscotty owned a .467 on-base percentage.
“Same-same,” the nonchalant Piscotty said before the game, dismissing any significance of the hitting second. “We usually put out pretty different lineups. I just feel like it’s normal in that sense.
“I’ve said it several times: A lot of times, you might end up leading off an inning (or) batting fourth in an inning. Other than that first time through, it doesn’t really affect anything. If ‘Dex’ (Fowler) does a good job of getting on base, I’ll be ready to be hitting with a runner on.”
Elevating Piscotty meant dropping shortstop Diaz to the sixth spot for the first time in his career. Diaz was batting a meager .179 (7-for-39) in nine games since April 21, but he was 3-for-5 to lift his average to .236.
Peralta to Palm Beach
Jhonny Peralta will begin a rehab assignment at high-Class A Palm Beach on Friday. Peralta, recovering from an upper-respiratory infection, will play third base and shortstop.
“We’re just going to get him some work,” Matheny said. “Hopefully, he’ll start getting that game speed. We’re looking forward to seeing how it plays out.”
Peralta played admirably in spring training but recorded just three hits in his first 25 at-bats of the season. Medication to treat the infection resulted in Peralta having a reaction that compromised his strength and energy.
Matheny said there’s no firm number of games Peralta will require before rejoining the Cardinals.
“I think it’s just going to be on how he feels, how he looks, how he responds, how his body feels,” said Matheny said, adding that Peralta also could hone his skills with at-bats in extended spring training. “How he’s recovering is going to be a big issue.”
Trevor Rosenthal has been used to set up Seung Hwan Oh and also as a closer in his first nine games since coming off the disabled list with a strained right lat.
Rosenthal has three saves and despite allowing nine hits in 8 1/3 innings, he has 17 strikeouts and has averaged 99 mph with his fastball.
“Things have been going pretty good,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t know if it’s the best I’ve ever felt, but definitely the results have been awesome. Things are progressing well and hopefully I’ll keep having opportunities to get into games.”
Brewers 5, Cardinals 4
Pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar homered against Matt Bowman with two outs in the seventh inning, breaking a 4-4 tie and giving Milwaukee two wins in three games in the rain-shortened series.
By the numbers
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was unable to protect a 3-0 lead. Wainwright allowed four runs (earned) on 10 hits in five innings, with three walks (one intentional) and four strikeouts. ... Dexter Fowler had a two-run triple in the second. ... Keon Broxton had four hits, including a home run against Wainwright. ... The Cardinals stranded 11 baserunners, at least one in every inning but the eighth. ... Kolten Wong had three hits and Yadier Molina and Aledmys Diaz had two apiece. ... Neftali Feliz had his eighth save.
At Atlanta, Lance Lynn (3-1, 2.45 ERA) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 2.81 ERA), 6:35 p.m. Friday