ST. LOUIS – If it were up to Matt Cain, the San Francisco Giants’ pitcher, he won’t face the Cardinals again this season. Luckily for him, the Giants are done with St. Louis after this series.
“Matt (Cain) is one of the top pitchers in our league,” St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny said. “He is just a pro and goes about it the right way. We know that you have to put anything together when you can and we had the one inning where we were able to do it. I think to see it happen twice, in one season with one club, you won’t see it again.”
The Redbirds lit up Cain for the second time this season, sending 12 men to the plate and scoring seven times in the third inning on the way to an 8-0 win Saturday afternoon in the first half of a split day/night doubleheader.
The third inning started with a leadoff double off the centerfield wall by Daniel Descalso. Pete Kozma then singled him to third before advancing to second himself on a sacrifice bunt from Shelby Miller.
With one out, Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay recorded back to back RBI singles to take a 2-0 lead. After a strikeout by Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Matt Adams each recorded two-out singles to plate two more runs.
That brought Toy Cruz to the plate with two outs.
“Of course you want to do something to contribute,” Cruz said. “But that is not really the approach you take out. For me, I just try to get a good pitch that I can hit.”
And did he ever contribute. The backup catcher wasted no time taking advantage of the chance to start with a two-run double to center. Descalso then drove in Cruz with an RBI single for his second hit of the inning. After Kozma singled for his second hit, Miller ended the Cardinals’ rally with a strikeout.
Every batter in the Cardinals’ lineup recorded a hit and scored a run in the third with the exception of Holliday and Miller.
Cain threw 40 pitches in the third.
As for the rest of the afternoon, the Cardinals’ bats were silent against Cain. The Giants’ ace retired the first six St. Louis hitters he faced and following the third inning, he set down the next 10. Cain finished the day with 101 pitches and nine strikeouts in six innings of work.
“After the first two, (innings),” Matheny said, “my comment to Chris Maloney, the bench coach and the other coaches was ‘he has got his good stuff. We are going to have to figure out a way to get something against him.’”
St. Louis added one more run in the bottom of the eighth.
For the Cardinals, Miller (6-3) went 7 innings and threw 106 pitches to get the win. He struck out seven and walked one while scattering six hits. Miller had only one 1-2-3 inning, but never allowed a runner past second base.
“I felt good,” Miller said. “I felt like I got my fastball command back today and I felt like everything was clicking. (Tony) Cruz did a great job of calling behind the plate. … We felt good today and the offense was even better.”
Matheny was pleased with how his starting pitcher performed.
“Shelby was good,” Matheny said. “He was good. He had a different style of pitching today. It was nice to see Tony (Cruz) really getting him to use his secondary pitches. … He did a nice job of making pitches and that’s a good thing.”
Cruz finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two RBIs, and a run scored.
“I put my work in,” Cruz said. “I just to stay sharp with the bat and behind the plate.”
Matheny was pleased with Cruz’s performance.
“That is, I think, one of the great points of this game,” Matheny said. “Offensively, I just don’t know how he can stay as sharp as he has done. … To come off our bench, and I say that about all our bench guys, but especially one that is being used as infrequently as Tony (Cruz) is being used, to stay sharp at all levels and have a big night like that, it’s very impressive.”
Matheny admitted that had Friday night’s game not been rained out, Cruz would not have started on Saturday.
“The answer would be no,” Matheny said. “Tony (Cruz) knows that too.”
Descalso turned in a 2-for-3 day with 2 RBIs, a run scored and a double. Kozma was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI while Adams was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, an RBI, and a walk.
The recently called up Keith Butler made his MLB debut when he pitched the ninth inning in a non-save situation. He walked the first batter before striking out Andres Torres for his first strikeout. Brandon Crawford singled before Butler retired the next two batters to end the game.
“When it set in the most, was when there was two outs and everybody kind of stood up,” Butler said. “The adrenaline, it was like, by far the best feeling I have ever had.”