The Bottom Line: After jumping out to an early lead, the Cards faltered as starter Michael Wacha turned in his worst start of the season. During a year where he had not given up more than three earned runs in a single start, Wacha gave up four earned runs on four hits with four walks while only lasting 5 innings. The Cards managed to chase Rays’ started Erik Bedard after only 4 innings of work, but they failed to find any further offense, putting together only one hit in 5 innings against the Rays’ bullpen. About the only bright spot of the night for the Redbirds was Yadier Molina’s two hit, two RBI night fueling the sputtering Cardinal’s offense.
Michael Wacha: After a mostly stellar first two months of the season, Wacha’s two outings to begin the month of June have been decidedly subpar. In 11 innings of work, Wacha has given up 11 hits, seven earned runs, and five walks for an ERA of 5.72 and WHIP of 1.45. While these numbers are not good in any sense of the word, Wacha has proved time and again his worth for the Cards so there is no real reason to be concerned. Overall, his season-long numbers are still superb with his ERA sitting at 2.88 and a WHIP just above 1.
Pitching Feats: More from the bump, Rays’ closer Grant Balfour pitched the final 2 innings of the night to record a two-inning save, the first time that’s been done in a non-blowout situation since 2010. Also, the Rays offensive outburst in the bottom of the 4th ended the Cardinals scoreless inning streak at 31 consecutive innings, the longest such streak since April of last year. Finally, the Cards signed 2nd round draft pick Ronnie Williams tonight, a high school pitching prospect profiled earlier this week.
Moving Forward: This loss was bad for the Cards–as is every loss–but this one especially stings. The Cardinals now sit at a pedestrian 34-32, 5 games behind the first-place Brewers. With every advantage heading into this series–offensively and pitching-wise–the Cardinals leave the Trop with a split against the hapless Rays and no closer to the Brewers then when they began the trip. But as Nick posted earlier, it’s still early in the season, keep your heads up.
What’s Next: With a day off tomorrow to travel to our great nation’s capital city, the Cardinals look to rest up for their series against the Nationals. Friday’s probables are Lance Lynn (6-4, 3.49 ERA) against the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman (5-2, 3.17 ERA). Also, the Cardinals got some incredible news today as Adam Wainwright’s MRI came back negative, allowing the team to dodge a bullet that very easily could have been fatal.