Another wave of the “Memphis Mafia” is sparking the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Friday, pinch-hitter Greg Garcia hammered his first career home run in a game the Cardinals won 3-2 in 10 innings over the Chicago Cubs.
On Saturday, Xavier Scruggs received a start at first base and was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs as the Cardinals ran roughshod over the slumping Cubs 8-1. It was Scruggs’ second consecutive three-hit game.
Scruggs also was 3-for-4 on Wednesday in a 4-3 win at Miami, and was 2-for-5 on June 20 in a 10-1 victory at Philadelphia. Scruggs is batting .500 (8-for-16) with two doubles and five RBIs.
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“It felt real good just to be able to help this team out,” Scruggs said of his latest big game. “Not try to do too much; just try to (provide) my piece to the puzzle. That was going to be big for me. I’m going to try to keep continuing to do that every day here.”
Scruggs said the biggest thing for him and Garcia is to try to blend into their surroundings.
“It’s huge for us to come in and help contribute any way we can,” he said. “Just doing our part, that’s going to be big for us continuing forward. That’s all we’re trying to do. I feel more comfortable just because I’ve been here before. I don’t have to do too much because it’s already a winning team and they’re already doing things the right way.”
Scruggs’ RBIs came in a four-run fourth against Donn Roach (0-1) and in a four-run fifth against Travis Wood. They were part of a 13-hit attack by the Cardinals that included two apiece from Kolten Wong and Jason Heyward. Heyward reached base four times.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny arrived in St. Louis at an opportune time. Starting first baseman Matt Adams is out for the year with a quad injury and Mark Reynolds, who has played the majority of the time at first since the injury, needs an occasional breather.
“It’s nice to get Xavier in there and also see him while he’s hot, taking him from Triple-A,” Matheny said. “A lot of times, these guys don’t get the opportunity to jump in when they have timing. But he looks really good right now offensively and defensively.”
And more relaxed.
“The times we had him up here before, we didn’t give him too many opportunities,” Matheny said. “The other thing is we’ve seen him and I’ve watched him in the minor-league system when he would get going like this. It’s impressive. He’s got power, he’s putting together great at-bats and I think he’s improving as a hitter, too. You’re seeing less holes and seeing him being able to make adjustments. ... It’s a process, and he’s getting better.”
The Cardinals reached the 50-win mark in 74 games, making them the ninth team to accomplish that feat since 1990 and the first since the Chicago White Sox in 2005. Last season, the Cardinals didn’t record their 50th victory until their 92nd game.
“Forgive me, (but) I really don’t know how to handle that or how to respond to it, because the message we’re giving inside is it’s way too early to be looking at records,” Matheny said. “We’re not completely oblivious to it, but we’re also not spending a lot of time on it. I think it’s kind of a distraction for what we have to do next.”
St. Louis, which turned three double plays in support of Michael Wacha (10-3), improved to a robust 28-7 at Busch Stadium, where its has won eight in a row and hasn’t lost since June 1. Meanwhile, the Cubs fell to 12-31 in St. Louis since the start of the 2011 season.
Carlos Villanueva worked the final three innings for his first save of the season. It was his fourth career three-inning save and the Cardinals’ first of that length since Joel Pineiro on Aug. 22, 2008.
Cardinals 8, Cubs 1
The St. Louis Cardinals banged out 13 hits and Michael Wacha won his 10th game of the season Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Xavier Scruggs had three hits and two RBIs and Kolten Wong and Jason Heyward had two hits apiece. Matt Carpenter broke open the game with a two-run single in the fourth that made it 4-1.
Odds and ends
The Cardinals won for the 50th time in 74 games, marking the first time since 2005 that a team has accomplished the feat. The Chicago White Sox did it last, when they won the World Series 10 years ago.
Carlos Martinez (8-3, 2.89 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals against Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.65 ERA) in the series finale at 7:08 p.m. Sunday.