Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cards thump Braves behind Martinez, Wong

The Cardinals sent Julio Teheran to an early exit and took advantage of multiple defensive miscues while providing Carlos Martinez with ample support in Saturday night's 12-2 win over the Braves at Turner Field.
Kolten Wong's three-hit performance paced the Cardinals, who tallied a pair of runs in three of the first five innings to back Martinez's determined six-inning effort. The St. Louis right-hander surrendered three straight hits to begin Atlanta's two-run third inning and then allowed just one more hit over the remainder of his 99-pitch outing.
"We understand the type of team we have and know that we can hit," said Wong, whose team has scored 19 runs in two days after tallying seven while being swept by the Pirates. "Hitting is contagious, and once a couple guys start getting on, it's usually the whole team starts hitting. We have some young guys stepping in and doing some big things for us, and kicking our butt to get us going."
As the Braves opened the season with a fourth straight loss, they saw Teheran allow five runs -- four earned -- over a four innings plagued by four walks, two wild pitches, a passed ball and a three-base error in the third, when Nick Markakis lost Wong's two-out fly ball that scored Stephen Piscotty from first base.
Though each team committed three errors, the most costly ones were committed by the Braves, who recorded just one hit over the final six innings.
"We didn't make some plays behind Julio, and he just struggled," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There's no pitching staff alive that survives when a starting pitcher only goes four innings. You start going into the middle relievers, and we didn't catch the ball behind those guys either."
Fast feet: Though far from the quickest team in baseball, the Cardinals tapped into some speed to build an early lead. After advancing to third on a pair of pitches that went to the backstop, Wong broke on contact as Martinez grounded a ball to second, sliding into home safely to score the game's first run. An inning later, Jeremy Hazelbaker ignited a two-run inning when he beat out a bunt and then hustled to third on a flyout, putting him in position to score when Piscotty reached on a two-out infield single. More >
"That's the kind of team we should be," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You're talking about some young, exciting hitters. They should be able to make something happen and put the pressure on the defense all the time."
Optimism halted: Teheran escaped the first inning unscathed after he walked the bases full, but the Braves right-hander did not throw a fastball that topped 90 mph after touching 91 in the first inning. He might have surrendered just three runs with some defensive assistance, but his 89-pitch outing (58 pitches through two innings) was not reminiscent of the encouraging starts he had in Spring Training and on Opening Day.
"I didn't feel the way I was feeling before," Teheran said. "It was just one of those nights you get through and just try to put it behind you and prepare for the next one."
Self supporting: A day after starter Jaime Garcia helped his own cause with an RBI single, Martinez matched a career best by driving in two. Three innings after Wong raced home to score on a groundout, Martinez poked a single through to right field to plate Wong again. Martinez did not drive in a run in 63 plate appearances last season.
"I was just trying to help my team," Martinez said. "I just tried to make contact and was able to bring in two runs."
He's no Andrelton: When the Braves traded shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Angels in November, their return package included Erick Aybar, who has had difficulty replacing the two-time Gold Glove Award winner. Aybar could have limited the Cardinals to one run in the fourth inning had he not made an errant throw on Piscotty's two-out grounder. The veteran shortstop then fumbled a potential double-play grounder during the two-run fifth St. Louis produced against Alexi OgandoMore > 
• For the first time since 1970, the Cardinals have opened a season without allowing a home run through five games. The only other team that has not served up a long ball is the Mets.
• Teheran has lasted fewer than five innings in eight of his past 33 starts. Before this stretch, he had done so in just eight of 65 starts dating back to the start of his 2013 rookie season.
The Braves also lost four straight games to begin the 2012 season. They haven't been 0-5 since losing the first 10 games of the 1988 season.
The Cardinals used an overturned ninth-inning call to add two late runs to their lead. Initially called out trying to garner an infield single with the bases loaded and two out, Eric Fryer was awarded an RBI hit after a 25-second review. An error immediately after the reversal added another run.
Cardinals: A Georgia native and former Braves farmhand, Adam Wainwright, will start Sunday in the Cardinals' final regular-season game at Turner Field. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 p.m. CT. After allowing three runs over six innings in his season debut, Wainwright spent time identifying and fixing some mechanical flaws in advance of this outing.
Braves: Williams Perez will make his first start Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET in the finale of this three-game series. Perez took some confidence into the offseason after posting a 2.35 ERA over his final five starts of the 2015 season.

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