ST. LOUIS (AP) — The results at the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals have changed so dramatically that they’ve gone from facing their first 0-4 start in 19 years to the verge of a positive the franchise hasn’t experienced since the 19th century.
With a club runs record on the horizon, the Cardinals seek their fifth straight win in Wednesday night’s middle game against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
St. Louis (4-3) scored seven runs and struck out 37 times during a season-opening sweep in Pittsburgh and entered a three-game set in Atlanta at risk of losing its first four for the first time since opening 0-6 in 1997.
Instead, the Cardinals scored 31 runs to sweep the Braves, including 12 in each of the final two games. They then opened their Busch Stadium slate by hanging 19 hits on Milwaukee (3-4) in Monday’s 10-1 victory – their 10th in the last 13 meetings.
The outburst marks the sixth time St. Louis has put up three straight 10-run games and first since 1980. The club has never done it in four straight contests, though the St. Louis Browns did log four streaks of four and two of five from 1886-94.
Atlanta and Boston were the last MLB teams with four-game streaks in 2007.
“We started a little slow, but obviously, it’s a long season,” Randal Grichuk told the team’s official website. “Hits are contagious. When you have guys going up there and taking great at-bats, you feed off it with another good at-bat.”
There were plenty in the opener. Jeremy Hazelbaker had a double, triple and two singles, and Aledmys Diaz and Yadier Molina each had three hits. The Cards’ eight doubles were their most since July 21, 2012, and their hits the most in a home opener.
Hazelbaker and Diaz were teammates at Double-A Springfield last season but have garnered opportunities after injuries to shortstop Ruben Tejada and outfielder Tommy Pham. Hazelbaker is 10 for 19 with hits in his last six games and RBIs in his last five, while Diaz is 8 for 15 with hits in each of his five games and RBIs in the last four.
They will try to help Mike Leake earn his first win with the Cardinals. The right-hander signed a five-year, $80 million contract in December but lasted only 4 1-3 innings in last Wednesday’s 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh.
The seven-year veteran labored through a 42-pitch first inning and surrendered four runs and seven hits while walking three and striking out one. He has a 5.48 ERA in his last four starts against the Brewers, who have hit .367 in that span.
Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy has 12 hits in 29 at-bats against Leake with a double, home run and four RBIs. Scooter Gennett is 7 of 16 with two doubles in the matchup, while Ryan Braun is 3 of 16 with a homer.
The Brewers, who have lost two of three, will counter with Chase Anderson, who experienced a far different debut with his club. The right-hander threw five four-hit innings in Friday’s 6-4 win over Houston, striking out five without a walk.
Anderson will try to help the Brewers rebound from Monday’s miserable start from Taylor Jungmann, who gave up more extra-base hits (seven) than he recorded outs (six). He surrendered eight runs and eight hits in his two innings.
“They were definitely all over him,” Lucroy told the team’s official website. “They did not miss any mistakes he made.”
Anderson scattered 10 hits against the Cardinals while with Arizona on May 25, holding them to two runs in six innings of a 3-2 loss.