Patience is a virtue for baseball fans.
Remember when St. Louis Cardinals fans got worried about Carlos Martinez after his shaky season debut in New York? Ah, those were funny days. Since the 4.1 unsatisfying innings, Martinez has hurled 21.1 innings, allowing just a single run and striking out 25 batters.
On a day where Major League Baseball honored one of its most indelible heroes in Jackie Robinson, Martinez's strong seven innings anchored the 3-2 win, which gave the Cardinals a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon. Here are my five takeaways:
5) Yadier Molina collected two more hits, including a blistering *single* off the outfield wall that ended with Molina being thrown out at second base. Complaining about Molina hustling to second is about as useless as complaining about his gingerly skip to first, but this is still hard to watch. Molina's run could have helped in such a close game.
4) Kolten Wong went 0-3 and committed an error at second base. This is the kind of bad streak that can snowball on a player like Wong because he can let his emotions get to him on the field. One has to hope that his struggles can find an end in Wrigley because Jedd Gyorko should be back this week.
3) Homer Bailey received the loss Sunday for the Reds. I had to do a double take when I heard Bailey was pitching because I didn't even know the guy was still around. That may be due to the fact that he hasn't lived up to the potential of a six year/$105 million contract. Bailey has only eclipsed 30 starts in a season once since the contract was signed and twice in his entire career.
2) Harrison Bader had a day, hitting an early two-run home run, adding a walk, and making the final out of the game on a sinking line drive hit by Billy Hamilton that could have blown the game. Most impressive about Bader's home run was the opposite field power that was on display. My goodness.
The kid is bittersweet to watch due to the fact that he may end up being trade bait this season or next, and the Cardinals current outfield situation doesn't have a ton of room, but seeing him take advantage of playing time is a nice touch.
1) Carlos Martinez took the Reds to "how to be an ace" school. The game score of 81 was dynamite, but the 11 strikeouts were the most sinister act committed by Martinez's arm on Sunday. He got into a jam or two early on and saw his defense fail to make a play or two, but he overcame the issues and dominated. He will get the Reds again next weekend.
Bonus takeaway: If you told me back in December that Bud Norris would lead the Cardinals in saves on April 15, I would have taken away your alcoholic beverage and bought myself an extra shot. Norris got into some trouble today in the ninth, but has a strikeout ability that every closer must have. He balanced a run on two hits with a couple K's. While Greg Holland fixes the tires on his arm, Norris can hold down the fort.
Wrigley will present a test. The Cubs aren't sharp out of the gate, but they can put up runs. The Cardinals will throw Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha at the Cubs tomorrow and Tuesday, which could be chaos because neither fare well in Chicago. Let's hope the bats show up and have a good time.
The Cards are 9-7 and have left a troubling homestand in the rearview mirror. Can they wrap up the road trip in style? Time will tell.
Thanks for reading,