Wacha fans 8, Cards rake in win over Mets

April 25th, 2018

ST. LOUIS --  has searched, clawed and felt his way through the season's first month, beginning with a four-start stretch that qualified as one of the strangest, statistically, of his career. Prior to Wednesday, the Cardinals right-hander was walking more batters and striking out fewer than ever before.
Wacha reversed those trends in his fifth start, a 9-1 win over the Mets, at least for a night. His mechanics in sync and his command sharp, Wacha breezed through six strong innings for his fourth win, which have all come in his past four starts. He struck out eight against just one walk, evening some alarming peripheral numbers on a night the Cardinals' offense provided plenty of run support.
"The last couple starts, I've been getting on a little roll here," Wacha said. "Not walking guys and filling up the zone."
And the basepaths, too.
The bulk of St. Louis' runs came via two small-ball rallies against losing pitcher , both of which Wacha was involved in. Down 1-0 in the third, Wacha's sacrifice bunt forced an error and pushed the tying run into scoring position. He later scored on a two-run single that capped a three-run frame.

Wacha was again in the middle of a rally in the fourth. His safety squeeze scored  to begin a four-run inning filled with bunts, walks and Mets misplays. Wacha scored when drove in a run with a forceout, and he said it was the first time he scored two runs in a game since high school.
The Cardinals scored nine runs on seven hits, the biggest being 's two-run homer off in the fifth, which pushed the lead to 9-1.

"Little things that result in big things," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That was a lot of getting guys over, getting them in. We talk nonstop about the importance of making sure we're capitalizing on those."
Added Wacha: "I felt like an athlete out there today."
To describe his night on the mound, Wacha used words like "trust" and "feel." Both abandoned him at times over his first four starts of the season, when Wacha often battled tough weather conditions. This time, he found his best fastball early -- topping out at 97 mph, per Statcast™ -- and he had the ability to dictate where it went.
"I noticed he was executing that ball at the top of the zone well, purposely," Matheny said. "That was a good indication that he was putting the ball where he wanted to."
Wacha has just two walks over his last 12 2/3 innings, after he issued 10 in his first 14 2/3 frames.
"Just trying to attack, trying not to walk guys," Wacha said. "I hate giving up free baserunners."
Big Bear breaks free: Slumping for much of the past three weeks, Ozuna broke out of a 1-for-25 slump when he squeezed a two-run single through the left side in the third. The Cardinals left fielder is known for borrowing teammates' bats when looking to kick-start his swing. This time, he used ones owned by Tommy Pham and Martinez. Ozuna's only hit of the night came with Martinez's bat.
"It's something I do to get my feeling back," Ozuna said. "Maybe I'll get a couple more hits with his bat. The two homers I have are also with his bat. I'll keep using it."

Matheny emptied his bench with a seven-run lead, inserting backup catcher among the substitutions. That shifted over to first base for the first time since May 2017. Molina made a throwing error while playing three innings in his 36th appearance at the position over his 16-year career.
"It damaged my modeling career. Let's see how many ladies still like me." -- Pham, who exited in the third inning after a bizarre accident gave him a head laceration
Thursday's rubber game will feature a marquee pitching matchup, when the Cardinals' (2-1, 1.42 ERA) and the Mets' (2-0, 3.29) face off in an Opening Day rematch at 12:15 p.m. CT. Few pitchers are rolling right now like Martinez, who is on an 18-inning scoreless streak.