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Carlos Martinez And Brandon Moss Secure Sweeping Win Over Astros

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Carlos Martinez fans seven through seven frames in 8-2 win over the Astros
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals Carlos Martinez brought his "A" game to face the Houston Astros in yesterday's match-up with Astros Doug Fister. Along with Cardinals offense and reliever Matt Bowman, St. Louis took the rubber match for the sweep in their two game split series. Martinez, going seven inning and holding the Astros scoreless through the fifth. He gave up one earned run to Astros rookie Alex Bregman for a RBI single in his sixth, while fanning seven and only issued one walk. Martinez was in control; and, managed his pitches well with only spending 79 PC with 54 strikes thrown. Fister was retired after four, one home run, four earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts. 

Cardinals offense definitely showed up for Martinez to hand him his 11 win this season. In the third, the Cardinals took the early lead. Fister had two runners on, with one out. Stephen Piscotty connects on a 2-2 pitch for two-RBI single into shallow left. With another out on the board, Yadier Molina slugs out a hit up the third baseline, which ricocheted off the wall for a RBI double for 3-0 Cardinals lead. In his fourth, rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker , full count, sends a rocket out to right for a solo home run. 

That was Hazelbaker's ninth home run this season. He was 2-4/1 RBI/2 Runs in yesterday's game. He has been a key bench player for the Cardinals this season. A seven year career minor leaguer was part of the Cardinals Spring training invitees. Due to injuries on the Cardinals roster at the beginning of the season, he got the nod to be with the team on Opening Day. He has filled in at centerfield, but his mainstay position is left field. Since LF Matt Holliday went to the DL with a fracture right thumb (HBP) and having surgery yesterday; in my opinion, Hazelbaker will see more playing time. In the month of June, he wowed Cardinals fans with a slash line .317/.357/.683/1.040. As we have seen with rookies, those numbers began to chill. He was sent back down to Memphis Triple-A mid-June and recalled July 20. With 13 games in July, he still was holding a .222 BA. In August, we have seen more production from him as he currently holds a .308/.438/.615/1.053 for the month. He's brought his current average to a .250 BA. Personally, I see Hazelbaker to continue to improve his season average. 

Astros James Hoyt on the hill for his second inning in the sixth. One out, one walk, Randal Grichuk connects for a RBI double to give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. Tony Sipp took over for Hoyt. One out, strands Grichuk on the bag with two K's to close the inning. Sipp's back for the seventh. He had one out, Piscotty doubled and issued a walk. Brandon Moss comes to the plate. On Sipp's first pitch, he blazes the two-seamer out over the right wall for a three-run homer.  

As much as Jedd Gyorko sealed the deal in Game One, Moss's blast slammed the door on the Astros in Game Two with a Cardinals 8-1 lead. That was the 22nd home run for Moss this season. 

The Astros would add another run before the game was over. Facing Jonathan Broxton in the eighth. He had two outs, issued a walk, allowed two hits. The second hit was by Jose Altuve for a RBI double. Two runners on, Broxton got his third out on a line-out to right. 

RELIEVER MATT BOWMAN TO THE RESCUE

Reliever Matt Bowman earned his "Birds on the Bat" in yesterday's game in the ninth.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals rookie Sam Tuivailala had been recalled from Memphis when Seth Maness was placed on the DL. He was called for the ninth inning and loaded the bases without on out. Matt Bowman came in to replace him and what a job he did. Bowman put up two K's, a grounder to a fielders choice - Springer out at second. Yes, Bowman was the man yesterday to take down "his side" of Tuivailala's jam. 

1B/OF BRANDON MOSS - FREE AGENT IN 2017

Moss was traded to the Cardinals at the July deadline in 2015 from the Cleveland Indians holding only a .217 BA. He had been on the DL due to hip surgery and his performance last season was less than stellar due to not having full force behind his bat. Many wanting to see him as a trade chip this past offseason, .250 BA/4 HR/8 RBI for St. Louis, but coming off the bench, his playing time was not abundant. However, being cleared to do a full regiment of strengthening exercises for his hip this past off-season, he began to see results at the plate during Spring training. I was excited for him. I knew this would definitely make a difference for him. Granted I'm not a ball player, but I have gone through the surgery myself. The one factor many fans do not take into consideration, mechanics at the plate are just as important for a hitter as it is for a pitcher. Full body motion is needed for confidence and to be effective. With a hitter, the hips, along with arm power, are necessary to follow through to connect for the best results. But, with some fans, waiting for results is just not in their nature. 

With injuries to the Cardinals roster, he, too, has seen more playing time at first base and in the outfield. He was DL'd this season, July 5 - July 31, with a sprained left ankle. Since his return, for the month of August, Moss slash line is .306/.343/.629/.972.  This season he is currently holding a .267 BA/.924 OPS with 22 HR/54 RBI/18-2B/2-3B on 75 hits. 

Now that Moss has found his "full body" power, many have changed their tune regarding Moss; and are "happy he is still on board". The Moss and his "camp" are interested in keeping him with the Cardinals. He will be a free agent in 2017. For 2016, 1 Yr/$8.25 MM contract. As the baseball market is currently, I would like to see the Cardinals sign Moss to a 2 YR/$20+ MM with a team option for 2020 of $10 MM. Moss is currently 32 years of age. To keep Moss on board, I believe would be a win-win situation. We will see if, indeed, a contract is in place prior to the last game played this season. My vote would be , yes. 

CARDINALS OFF DAY

The Cardinals closed their series with the Astros and travel to Philadelphia to face the Phillies. Scheduled to start, Cardinals Adam Wainwright to face Phillies LHP Adam Morgan. 

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