With the All-Star break beginning tomorrow, now is a good time to reflect on the Cards’ season by counting down the team’s top five moments up to this point:
5. Taveras homers in first major league game: On May 31, highly-touted prospect Oscar Taveras homered in just his second major league at-bat to put Cards fans at Busch Stadium in seventh heaven. Taveras has not hit another homer since then and he’s batting just .197 so far, but his opening-game homer proves his vast potential that ensures a bright future for the Cardinals.
4. Waino blanks Reds on opening day: I couldn’t make this list without including Adam Wainwright, right? Facing a team that he has struggled against in the past, Waino tossed a three-hit shutout and struck out nine in seven innings against the Reds as the Cards won 1-0 on the road. Waino’s masterful pitching performance on Opening Day set the tone for one of the best seasons of his career up to this point, as he is 12-4 with a 1.83 ERA and is a serious Cy Young candidate.
3. Miller’s shutout lifts Cards to winning record: Shelby Miller started a string of three consecutive Cards’ shutouts by pitching a three-hitter on June 7th against the streaking Toronto Bluejays. At the time, the Cards had lost 9 of their last 12 games and had a mediocre 31-31 record, but Miller’s performance on the mound lifted the Cards to above .500 and changed the complexion of the season. If Miller doesn’t deliver that good of a performance, the attitude in the locker room would have been much different with an under .500 record, and the Cards probably wouldn’t have won seven of their next eight games. Unfortunately, Miller (7-8, 4.29 ERA) has not recorded a victory since then, so hopefully the All-Star break provides some much needed rest for the second-year pitcher.
2. Wong belts walk-off homer: Following Matt Adams’ walk-off homer the day before, Kolten Wong blasted a walk-off homer of his own to right field to give the Cards a 5-4 win against the Pirates on Tuesday. Wong’s homer not only helped the Cards gain ground on the Brew Crew, but it also gave him the confidence that he can hit in the big leagues. Since that home run, the second baseman has hit three more homers to double his season total to six in just his first complete major league season.
1. Matt Adams rips Cards’ first walk-off hit since 2011: With second place in the NL Central on the line and the game deadlocked at zero, Matt Adams crushed his first career walk-off homer to give the Cards a pivotal 2-0 win over the Pirates on Monday. It was the Cards’ first walk-off hit since David Freese’s dramatic homer in extra innings in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Overall, I think that we will look back on Adams’ hit as one that changed the season and boosted the Cardinals into a playoff spot.