CINCINNATI -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny couldn't believe when he heard the numbers, the benchmarks that came with his team's blasts. Jose Martinez's solo homer, the hardest by a Cardinals player in years. Paul DeJong's shot, the farthest of his career. Yadier Molina crushed his longest in three seasons."What?!" Matheny
CINCINNATI -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny couldn't believe when he heard the numbers, the benchmarks that came with his team's blasts. Jose Martinez's solo homer, the hardest by a Cardinals player in years. Paul DeJong's shot, the farthest of his career. Yadier Molina crushed his longest in three seasons.
"What?!" Matheny gasped.
Thus was the reaction to St. Louis' offensive outburst Thursday, when the Cardinals used four homers and a seventh-run seventh to power their way to a 13-4 series-opening win over the Reds. Eye-popping blasts birthed jaw-dropping numbers for a lineup that spent most of the season's first two weeks operating mostly in fits and spurts. Turns out, all it took for the Cardinals to start lifting was a little warm weather and a trip to Great American Ball Park.
"That's been kinda the buzz, especially back home, where everybody is worrying about the lineup," Matheny said. "It's a good day when you throw 13 up there and it gives you a bump."
The runs came in bunches. Martinez drove in six, William Fowler scored thrice and Molina, DeJong and Marcell Ozuna all went deep. But it was the metrics behind the outburst, relayed to Matheny later, that had the manager incredulous. All are true.
Martinez's 113.7 mph shot off Zack Weiss marked the hardest-hit ball of his career, and second-hardest home run hit by a Cardinals player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Molina followed with a 438-foot homer, his longest over that same time frame. The back-to-back blasts began a seventh inning in which St. Louis sent 11 men to the plate, and that Martinez bookended with a two-run double. DeJong put the Cardinals ahead an inning earlier with a 464-foot homer off Austin Brice, the longest and hardest-hit (110 mph) home run of his career.
"A couple of huge days for a couple of guys," Matheny said. "The offense just kept on coming."
In all, they tallied 12 hits and took 11 walks, including five consecutive free passes against Weiss and Tanner Rainey in the seventh. Entering the game mired in a 1-for-20 funk with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals posted a season high in runs against seven Reds pitchers, a group that included infielder Cliff Pennington, who pitched the ninth.
All of which made a laugher of what was a back-and-forth game through five innings, with both teams trading rallies against starters Michael Wacha and Sal Romano. Wacha battled control issues for the third time in three starts, but earned his second win by finishing five frames.
Martinez put up particulars on this night that haven't been hit by a Cardinals player in decades. He went 4-for-5 with six RBIs, courtesy of two doubles and a home run. The last player in Cardinals history to notch at least four hits, six RBIs, two doubles and a home run in the same game was Red Schoendienst on May 20, 1953.
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Easily lost in all the offense were two highlight-reel defensive plays. Ozuna went over the wall along the left-field line to snatch a Jesse Winker foul ball back from the stands in the seventh, and Tommy Pham made a four-star game-ending catch in right-center field. Ozuna declined to talk about his play after the game, but Pham called it "a player-ish play." More >
HE SAID IT
Martinez's 14 RBIs rank second in the Majors. His six RBIs on Thursday came while playing through some pain in both feet. Martinez severely bruised his right Achilles earlier in the week against the Brewers and fouled a ball hard off his left ankle during Thursday's game.
"I cannot let it stop me. This is the opportunity of my lifetime. I need to be out there."
Right-hander Luke Weaver is the only member of the Cardinals' rotation who has yet to lose this season. He looks to remain undefeated when this series continues Friday at Great American Ball Park. Weaver opposes Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle in the 5:40 p.m. CT tilt.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.