Mike Leake goes seven scoreless innings while fanning eight in win over Phillies.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Leake, who had a rough beginning in August, turned his game around facing the Philadelphia Phillies. The St. Louis Cardinals starter came into the game having given up 13 earned runs, issuing six walks and only six strikeouts in three starts/17 innings pitched. Yesterday, he brought his "A" game to Citizens Bank Park. He held the Phillies scoreless in seven innings, only issued one free pass and had eight strikeouts in the 9-0 shutout win. Not only a very strong stand yesterday, he added a 2 RBI single in the fourth facing Phillies Vince Velasquez. This was a much needed outing for Leake who was close to seeing his ERA top 5.00; and, it was his first shutout this season. His last was September 30, 2015 in a complete two-hit shutout game over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Leake has been 3-7 AB/1-2B/4 RBI this season. That now gives Cardinals starters a total of 21 RBI in regular game play (not included is Wainwright's two as pinch hitter), which is an improvement over 2015 with ten.
The Cardinals offense did not wait to take advantage of Velasquez. Brandon Moss had been 0-5 in the first two games. He had been held out of Game One due to flu-like symptoms. Game Two, he still didn't have that energy at the plate I have seen from Moss. Game Three, he was back in full force putting up Cardinals first two runs. In the first inning, he crunched out a RBI sac-fly into deep right center at the track. It wasn't until the fourth that Moss added his second RBI of the game. On Velasquez first pitch, he is not short. He sent the two-seamer out over the left center wall for a soloshot for his 23 home run this season.
With Leake's 2-RBI single, the Cardinals take a 4-0 lead at the end of the fourth. The Cardinals followed with three more home runs in their shutout. Stephen Piscotty, top-of-the-order in the fifth, unloaded a missile for his solo homer. Velasquez was retired after his sixth, 2 HR/5 ER/2-BB/7 SO. Even thought holding a 2.39 ERA at home, Velasquez had experienced his own slump in August, giving up six home runs and 16 earned runs in his previous three starts. One season with the Phillies, this was his debut against the Cardinals.
Cardinals didn't strike again until the eighth inning facing Frank Herrman. He had two outs on the first two up. Jhonny Peralta doubled deep; then, advanced to third on a wild pitch. Jedd Gyorko, 1-3 with a double, he blasts a 2-2 pitch with an opposite hit two-run home run over the right wall.
Randal Grichuk, on a two out - strikeout was safe at first on another wild pitch. Off the bench, Jeremy Hazelbaker pinch hitting for Leake. Another 2-2 pitch delivered by Herrman, Hazelbaker sends a high flyer over the right wall for another two-run homer for the Cardinals 9-0 lead and final score. That was the Cardinals 14 pinch hitting home run this season. Having dealt with light showers on and off during the game, the rain became heavier in the eighth. Even though, the game continued and Cardinals Jerome Williams was called for the ninth. He allowed on hit, but got the double play and ground out to hold the shutout intact. Leake got his ninth win and Velasquez was handed his sixth loss.
"Hazelbaker's 10th HR [Game Two] gives the Cardinals 9 players with 10+ HR for 2nd time in team history (2000-9) (Pham currently with 9)" (Cardinals Magazine). A sac-fly, a single and four home runs give the Cardinals the decisive win to take the series over the Phillies.
Cardinals Brandon Moss and Jedd Gyorko, not only Cardinals sluggers; but, best friends.
With Moss and Gyorko home runs, that was the seventh straight game one or the other; or, both, have sent the two-seamer out of the park.
HAPPY FLIGHT BACK TO BUSCH STADIUM
The Cardinals return to Busch Stadium today on their day off. They will host the New York Mets on Tuesday for three games. Cardinals Jaime Garcia will face Mets LHP Jonathan Niese. With 6-3 on this road trip, the Cardinals hold the best road record in the MLB, 38-24. They were 3-3 in their last home stand. With the momentum they have, I look for them to better their 28-33 home record in these next six games. The Cardinals (66-57) still sit two games behind the San Francisco Giants (68-56) in the Wild Card race. Following close behind are the Miami Marlins (65-59). The Pittsburgh Pirates (62-59) and the Mets (62-62) are still in the hunt. Still many games yet to be played. However, the days of "a lot of baseball left" is no more, as we are only nine days away from September.