GAME 3: All Too Human
Who knows what we really expected from Adam Wainwright on his first official start since returning from Tommy John surgery. A no-hitter? A complete game shutout? Whatever hyperactive predictions we had prior to game time, they came crashing back to Earth quickly with a very-human start from the Cardinal ace and a team-wide blackout at unfriendly Miller Park. The Cardinals lost their first game of the season 6-0 to the Brewers.
NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME: Although it looked like Wainwright was struggling with his off-speed stuff, he battled for his first 5.1 innings since his 2011 elbow surgery. When the Brewers hit Waino, they hit him hard – three of their four hits went for extra bases – but Wainwright wriggled out of several jams with key strikeouts and a couple of ground balls. It wasn’t pretty, but it was serviceable. It just wasn’t the superhuman performance we’ve come to expect.
ZACKED OFF: The Cardinals’ hot bats were cooled off quickly by cross-eyed Milwaukee starter Zack Greinke, who was nasty. He went right after the Cardinals, threading some tough strikes and making some good hitters look pretty foolish. The Cardinals struck out seven times against Greinke in seven innings, including two from Carlos Beltran. They were guessing all afternoon.
COLD FRONT: David Freese is unstoppable right now. Even in the midst of a dominant start from Greinke during which his teammates could offer no resistance, Freese still managed two hits. Will he ever stop hitting? I sure hope not!
NO VICTOR: Wainwright left the game in the sixth with Aramis Ramirez on second base and the score 2-0. Manager Mike Matheny requested right-hander Victor Marte to face Corey Hart, setting up a righty/righty matchup and therefore makes some sense. What doesn’t make any sense is why Marte is on this team at all. While Eduardo Sanchez labors in the minors, Marte takes up a roster spot with a career ERA of 9.30. He showed why within a pitch, when Hart crushed a center field home run to put the game out of reach. Awful. Already we have identified this year’s Miguel Batista.
ROTTEN SALAS: Relief didn’t come after Marte, as Fernando Salas continued to look disturbingly hittable. The Brewers crushed Salas in just two-thirds of an inning with two earned runs and a home run. He looked BAD. If Marte is Bastista, then Salas has looked like this year’s Ryan Franklin. Troubling.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Freese, mainly for his continued hotness.
CONCLUSION: Sometimes you come up against a pitcher who has his best stuff, and when it’s someone as good as Greinke, you just tip your hat. I don’t think the Cardinals had much of a chance today against the Brewers. But the bullpen thing needs to be watched carefully, because they just don’t look right so far.