After a rough start down in Houston the St. Louis Cardinals picked up right where they left off in April. With Tyler Greene leading the charge.
Second baseman Tyler Greene showed all those offensive skills Sunday that have labeled him still a prospect although he more often than not has been suspect at the big-league level.
Greene, mostly a reserve who was starting at second base against Houston LHP J.A. Happ, clubbed two homers and a double and drove in four runs as he bumped his average to .256. He stole one base and nearly had another and he also turned in a nifty double play in the field as the Cardinals captured the finale of a three-game series from the Astros, 8-1.
First baseman Allen Craig, knocked out for two months last May when he slid into a railing here and suffered a broken right kneecap, got his revenge on Minute Maid Park by homering and doubling and knocking in three runs.
As the Cardinals stopped their losing streak at three games and the Astros’ winning streak at five, RHP Adam Wainwright did what he always does against the Astros. Wainwright, winning his second straight, held the Astros to one run on seven singles in seven innings and struck out seven. It was Wainwright’s 10th win in 11 career decisions against the Astros and his earned-run average for that body of work is 1.54.
But what Greene did certainly was less expected than the feats of the other two. In fact, he did what no other Cardinals second baseman ever has done.
According to SABR research, Greene is the first Cardinals second baseman to have as many as four RBI, three hits and two homers and at least one stolen base in the same game.
“Hopefully, I was able to earn a couple of days out there (in Arizona),” said Greene. “Everybody wants to be out there every day. You just take whatever circumstance you’re given and do the best you can with it.”
A few notes
–1B Allen Craig is hitting .375 and slugging .750 after his first four games, including three doubles and a homer, after leaving the disabled list. “I can’t wait for the year I can see 500 to 600 at-bats from that guy,” said hitting coach Mark McGwire.
–RHP Adam Wainwright is getting closer to the form he displayed in 2009-10, when he won 39 games for the Cardinals before losing last season to an elbow operation. After pitching poorly in his first three starts this season, amassing an unsightly 9.88 ERA along with three losses, Wainwright is 2-0 and 2.70 since then, including a one-run, seven-hit allotment over seven innings on Sunday. “You could see he had a good feel for all his pitches. I don’t think (Wainwright) is very far away now,” manager Mike Matheny said.
–CF Jon Jay turned in his sixth spectacular play of the three-game series when he avoided LF Matt Holliday, who had pulled up, and made a sliding catch on Justin Maxwell‘s drive to left center in the fifth inning.
–Injured 1B Lance Berkman ran in the outfield for some 10 minutes before the game and said his strained left calf “felt a lot better than the other day. Marked improvement.”
–Matheny had pondered giving 34-year-old SS Rafael Furcal a day off Sunday. But too much was happening for Furcal and not enough was happening for the Cardinals.
–Furcal, matching Lou Brock in 1974, had led off six straight games with hits and he had scored in the first inning after five of them. Matheny said, “He was excited about getting in there and facing a lefty (J.A. Happ). And there’s no question that everybody’s pretty excited about winning a game here.” The Cardinals won but Furcal’s streak was snapped with a first-inning fly out.
–St. Louis has scored in the first inning for eight games in a row.
–The Cardinals’ five homers in Monday night’s game were their most since hitting six on July 5, 2007, against Pittsburgh.
–Beltran needs two stolen bases to become the eighth player in major-league history with at least 300 steals and 300 homers.
–Westbrook followed his most difficult outing of the season — a 6-3 home loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates — with his most dominant. He has as many quality starts through this season’s six outings as he managed in the first 16 in 2011