Last year, the Baltimore Orioles were at the bottom of the barrel. An exercise in futility. A hapless bunch. (Insert any sad and pathetic simile or metaphor here). And they had only secured one win in their first five games before Thursday.
That all changed as the Orange Birds on the Cap walloped the Redbirds and Adam Wainwright, 8-2, souring the home opener before 42,375 and bringing the Cards back to 4-3. Perennial rebound hope Chris Davis pounded two home runs and plated five, while last season's surprise Hanser Alberto drove in three more.
Wainwright didn't look sharp in the beginning, middle or end of his stint. His trademark curve ball only rarely found the plate, letting opponents sit on what was at best a 91 mph fastball. The result was a lot of hits a lot of the time. Nine, in fact, over less than five innings.
"I stunk. I don't know if I can say any more about it. Stunk," said Wainwright. "I'm still honored they held the home opener slot for me, but I deserved it about as much as a little leaguer today. Maybe less."
Baltimore's offense in 2019, when they only won a third of their games, wasn't nearly as bad as their historically abysmal pitching. But they relied heavily on slugger Trey Mancini, and he's been sidelined due to removal of a malignant tumor in his stomach and the follow-up care he's needed. Middle infielder Jonathan Villar was sent to the Miami Marlins in an offseason deal.
The Orioles' pitching, which was dead last in the majors with a 5.59 ERA, had few bright spots, but Thursday's starter John Means, was one of them. The lefthander pitched to a 3.60 ERA in 155 innings, and showed fine stuff over an out short of seven innings in the battle against Wainwright.
There isn't much to tell for the Cardinals offense. They were down 6-0 when rookie Dylan Carlson, the recipient of a huge swell when announced as a starter before the game, homered from the right side in the sixth, driving in Paul DeJong.
"Man, I wish we had won, but what a thrill," said Carlson. "I know it's a cliche, but it's what kids dream about. These fans are something, but I was told all about that coming in. (I'm) looking forward to a bunch of years here."
Means surrendered only two other hits and two walks with sharp stuff and a Cards lineup quite willing to stretch the strike zone on his behalf. "Sneaky good," said DeJong, who grabbed one of the four hits against Means but was confounded in his other three at bats."
The lefty never topped 92 but threw all four of his pitches where he wants when he wants. He several times froze both lefties and righties with his curveball after making them chase on sliders and changeups.
The home crowd did get to see a litany of Cards relievers thanks to the short Waino outing. John Gant, Tyler Webb and Ryan Helsley all got their work in.
Next Up and Notes: Fans were having fun before the game, as Tyler O'Neill belted a few big blasts during batting practice. Luke Weaver returns to the mound for the second game of the series, with the Orioles, contemplating a bullpen game, still unannounced as to their starter.